Beluga born at Shedd Aquarium

December 15, 2009 (CHICAGO) On Monday, Puiji gave birth to the calf, which took its first breath and began swimming with its mother. The baby was born breech with its head first, which, according to Shedd officials, is rare.

Animal experts are monitoring the mom and her calf and both are doing well.

"We are thrilled to welcome the newest member of the Shedd beluga family; however, a newborn calf must reach several milestones in its first days and months so we remain cautiously optimistic," said Ken Ramirez, senior vice president of animal collections and training, in a released statement. "The calf has made tremendous progress over the past 24 hours, including bonding with mom and nursing, which happened for the first time this morning. We are pleased at what we've seen and will continue to provide the very best 24-hour care over the days and months to come."

The male calf is 5'4" and 162 pounds.

Experts said Puiji is teach the calf- who has a slightly curved tail due to the breech birth- to dive.

"Puiji is an incredible mom and is teaching the calf how to dive, which is essential for nursing. While we will continue to watch the calf's swimming patterns, we are pleased with his diving progress," said Ramirez.

The male calf is Puiji's third birth. Naluark is father of the calf. Mom and baby- as well as several other beluga whales- are currently off exhibit, but others appear on Shedd's show, Fantasea.

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