Katrl, the dolphin, gave birth to a 25-pound calf at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Katrl is 28-and-a-half years old and its pregnancy was carefully registered and published on the aquarium’s blog.
After three hours of labor, this is the first calf given birth by Katrl, which raised awareness about her motherly behavior. Its sex has not been determined, but both dolphins are to receive special care during the calf’s early development stages.
Birth of a dolphin
Lisa Takaki, the director of marine mammals of Shedd Aquarium stated that the birth was natural and perfect. Katrl started giving the first signs of birth at 6:02am, for which she received close attention from the aquarium’s staff. At 9:14am, Katrl headed to the surface and delivered a final push, in which the baby dolphin swam by itself for the first time, all in the presence of a crowd of visitors.
Takaki then reported that the first hours after birth went on normally, as they are the most critical during the whole process. The marine mammals staff w performing research procedures by taking notice of the behaviors developed by both the calf and the mother, as this will prove whether Katrl and its baby are in line with other dolphins’ registered behavior after birth.
This is an important event because there are only 16 Pacific white-sided dolphins held in captivity in North America. After witnessing the birth, Shedd’s CEO Dr. Bridget Coughlin commented that “Pacific white-sided dolphin births have never been seen in the wild, so it’s a unique opportunity for Shedd to deepen our scientific knowledge of this species.”
According to Coughlin, Katrl is “showing signs of protectiveness by steering her calf away from the sides of the habitat and helping to guide it into swimming position to conserve its energy reserves.” Because Katrl is a first-time mother, there are higher concerns regarding nursing, as the calf is expected to approach the mother to then be guided towards her mammary glands, which are located near her tail. The process must be done all while swimming, so it proves to be a difficult, yet natural, task for these marine mammals.
The calf managed to successfully attach itself to Katrl, which allowed it to drink the milk that contains the calories, proteins, and antibodies that he so much needs to gain weight, grow and stay healthy, as newborn mammals are always susceptible to infections and diseases.
Source: Shedd Aquarium