Georgia Aquarium has announced that one of its Beluga whales is pregnant and is due to give birth in June.
This is a rare occurrence in captivity – and even more unusual is the fact that the mother, 17-year-old Maris, became pregnant naturally, and not through artificial insemination.
Due to the fact that newborn cetacean calves don't always survive with first-time mothers in either their natural habitat or in captivity, staff at the Aquarium have been training Maris on how to care for the baby.
This includes divers entering the tank in the middle of the night and leaving dim lights on all night instead of the tank remaining in darkness, so that Maris can get accustomed to the changes in case she goes into labour out of normal Aquarium hours. She's also being trained to present her belly for ultrasound scans and to present her mammary glands to different objects in the hope that it will make her more likely to nurse the baby once it's born.
The baby's father, Beethoven, was the first Beluga whale to be born in captivity.
You can find out more on the video by Georgia Aquarium, below:
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