The male calf, born on Memorial Day, swam past key milestones, including mimicking mom Piquet and being introduced to another female dolphin, Katrl tn the last few days. The successful meeting provided the calf with exposure to other animals, and gave Piquet the opportunity to be around another female. Visibly gaining weight, he is nursing for about 10- to 12- minutes a day and has also learned to sleep.
"It's been another amazing week for the calf at Shedd Aquarium. Our 24-hour animal care team has observed the calf exhibiting a new skill that any mom can appreciate - sleeping regularly," said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training. "His sleep schedule now nearly matches Piquet's."
Dolphins sleep with only one eye closed as one side of its brain goes into sleep mode, while the other side of the brain is alert for predators as they slowly drift through the water, according to Ramirez who is a past board member and regional stranding coordinator for the national Marine Mammal Live Stranding Network in Texas where he continues to serve as a scientific advisor.
"Demonstrating his curiosity and youthful energy, the calf has also begun to mimic Piquet as she swims upside down," said Ramirez, who is the past president of the International Marine Animal Trainer's Association (IMATA). "He hasn't quite mastered it yet, but is certainly trying very hard."
Dolphins survey the sea by swimming upside down. Without a sense of gravity, they alternate their swim pattern from upside down to right side up. However, swimming upside down is an acquired skill that the newborn is still working on. "The calf continues to grow more each day," said Ted Beattie, Shedd president and CEO. "We're delighted to introduce the newest addition to our guests at the aquarium, while working closely with our animal health team as they continue to provide around-the-clock care and observation for the newborn."
Small groups are invited to view the calf in a private setting and gain an insider's look at the intricate care provided to this rarely studied species from June 23 to July 1. During this limited time, guests can donate a tax-deductible gift of $20 to Shedd's annual fund, with the purchase of a Shedd Pass or Total Experience pass, to see the calf during a special marine mammal trainer chat. Beginning Monday, July 2, the calf will be available for viewing to all guests in the Abbott Oceanarium.