Georgia Aquarium to welcome a baby Beluga Whale
A 13-year-old Beluga whale named Qinu is expecting a calf at Georgia Aquarium this summer, the aquarium’s animal health team monitoring suggests. As the Beluga whales’ full gestation period is typically nine months, the team estimates the calf will be due in the mid-summer.
This revelation is exciting news for the Georgia Aquarium since Qinu lost her first pregnancy in 2017 due to complications that made the calf did not survive the birthing process. The aquarium’s animal health and animal care teams work together to keep Qinu on track with every phase of her pregnancy through routine ultrasound imagery. The team uses the procedure to monitor the internal organs of the Beluga whale.
The birth of the calf will be essential to ensure the future of the species. Dennis Christen, the senior director of animal training, mammals, and birds at Georgie Aquarium, says, “Qinu’s pregnancy is exciting for all of us on her care team. In addition to that, this calf is incredibly important to us and future generations’ ability to see and connect with belugas. Through that, we are also able to continue our valuable research on these magnificent Arctic animals.”
The aquarium’s animal care and animal health are glad that Qinu is still young and healthy in her second pregnancy. They believe that Qinu will give birth successfully. They have prepared an observation program and on-site staff and volunteers for 24 hours to monitor any specific changes and measure respiration. Even after the calf is born, they are still responsible for monitoring Qinu and her calf’s bonding and nursing behavior.
Beluga whale pods constantly change and grow from time to time at the zoological facilities and in the ocean. As the pod grows, Nunavik, one of the male beluga whales, moves to another advanced facility. He will be provided with a new social group with other aged males to learn as he grows.
Recently, the aquarium has four females and one male of Beluga whales. They are Whisper, Qinu, Maple, Shila, and Imaq. Whisper gave birth to Shila on May 17, 2020.
“We spend every day with these animals and develop incredible bonds with them. While this is a great opportunity and an integral part of his growing up, it is still difficult to see Nunavik leave Georgia Aquarium,” Christen added. “It’s definitely a bittersweet moment as we prepare to welcome another calf and Shila gets ready to turn one, but we’re all so thankful for the time we’ve spent with him.”
To keep yourself update on Qinu’s pregnancy, make sure you follow Georgia Aquarium on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit news.georgiaaquarium.org. For more information on beluga whales, you can check the Georgia Aquarium’s Animal Guide.