SAN ANTONIO, TX (KSWO) —SeaWorld San Antonio welcomed the newest addition to its beluga whale family.
The calf, whose sex is yet to be determined, made its head first entrance after about 30 minutes of labor. The Zoological team was on hand as the mother "Luna" delivered the calf weighing a whopping 140 pounds! "Luna" was born at SeaWorld San Antonio in 2000, this is her third calf. The calf's sire, "Imaq," comes from the Vancouver Aquarium and is currently in the care of SeaWorld San Antonio.
"SeaWorld is deeply committed to the health and care of all our animals, and we are happy to report that the new calf has been observed bonding and swimming with mom as expected. We expect the calf to begin nursing soon, which is one of the first signs of health and well-being in a newborn," said Chris Bellows, SeaWorld San Antonio's vice president for zoological operations.
The first weeks in the life of a dolphin or whale are critical. Over the next couple months, Zoological staff will monitor the calf 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and animal trainers and veterinarians are ready to assist if the need arises.
"We will be monitoring nursing, respirations and other vital indicators which, thus far, have been positive. Round-the-clock monitoring enables us to record data that will better help us understand beluga calf growth and development," Bellows said.
Today's birth is important for not just SeaWorld, but also for researchers and accredited zoological facilities committed to caring for beluga whales and educating the public to better understand and conserve this protected species. The Arctic sea ice that makes up the beluga's habitat and is a critical component of Arctic marine ecosystem is disappearing at an alarming rate. The changing environment and increasing human pressures from shipping noise and pollution mean fewer food sources and greater threats affecting belugas and other marine animals.