A baby Pacific white-sided dolphin was born at Shedd Aquarium, officials announced Monday.
The cute calf, whose gender is still unknown, was welcomed into the world in the aquarium's Secluded Bay area shortly after midnight Monday morning. It weighs approximately 28 pounds and is about three feet long.
Immediately after the birth, the new calf began "slipstreaming" and swimming alongside its mother, both of which are good signs, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"Both mother and calf appear to be doing well and will remain under 24-hour observation by Shedd's animal care staff for several months," the aquarium said.
Though the birth was a success, the aquarium said the calf will still have many "milestones" to overcome, such as bonding with the mother, learning to nurse and learning to feed independently. Fewer than half of all dolphin calves, born either in the wild or in captivity, survive to their first birthday.
"Animal care and animal health staffs are excited and hopeful and are using the knowledge gained through previous births to help monitor and ensure mother and calf are meeting these important milestones," said Tim Binder, executive vice president of animal care for Shedd Aquarium.
This is the second successful pregnancy for the mother, 27-year-old Piquet. In 2012, she gave birth to Sagu, who remains at Shedd, CBS reports.
To allow Piquet and her new calf special alone time to bond, the public won't be able to view this inseparable pair until the first critical period has passed, Shedd noted in its blog.
Pacific white-sided dolphins are abundant in the wild, with more than 900,000 animals living in the northern Pacific Ocean, according to the NOAA. These social animals, which are smaller than the more familiar bottlenose variety, have an unusually large, falcate dorsal fin and are sometimes referred to as the "hookfin porpoise," even though they are not porpoises. Pacific white-sided dolphins also have a robust body and a very short beak.
A primary threat to these dolphins is incidental catch in fisheries, but like all marine mammals they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) throughout its range.
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