Chicago's Shedd Aquarium is celebrating the birth early Monday of a beluga whale who came into this world measuring 4 1/2 feet and weighing about 150 pounds.
Both mother and calf will remain under around-the-clock observation during the next several days, but the birth and early moments in the calf's life went well.
"In less than 24 hours after birth, the calf achieved the first critical milestones that we look for, including taking its first breath, bonding with mom and we’ve seen attempts at nursing," said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training at Shedd.
"Shedd’s long history of research and care of these animals tells us that these initial behaviors indicate a strong calf; but we will continue to monitor for signs of development, including steady nursing and growth."
The mother, Mauyak, handled the labor and birth like the expert she is, having delivered two previous calves into the Shedd universe.
Both animals remain off exhibit during the observation period. The calf's father, Naluark, is on a breeding exchange at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.
Shedd, which is part of the North America beluga whale breeding cooperative, now has seven belugas.
The facility made headlines three months ago after the successful birth of its first-ever Pacific white-sided dolphin. The dolphin and his mom are big hits in the the Misty Passage portion of the Abbott Oceanarium.
--Image showing newborn beluga whale and mother is courtesy of Shedd Aquarium