It's a girl! Shedd's baby beluga whale ready for public debut

October 23, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The 8-week-old beluga whale be viewable at Shedd Aquarium starting on October 26 at 11 a.m. The little girl isn't so little at 205 pounds and five-feet tall.

That's right on schedule, according to Shedd staffers.

"At birth, a little less than 130 pounds. Today over 215 pounds. She is growing very, very fast," Ken Ramirez, Shedd's executive vice president of animal care and training, said. "This little calf appears to be putting on between 12 and 15 pounds every single week."

Her 1,200-pound mother, Mauyak, is doing just fine, too, and eating 88 pounds of fish a day as she feeds her growing baby.

"Almost, almost tripling her diet," Ramirez said. "It's amazing to watch how a mother and a calf nurse. It really is a complicated process. Mom is swimming and calf has to match that speed and latch on to the mammaries. I used to equate it to the space shuttle trying to dock. It's a really complicated process."

A complicated process that visitors can watch, starting on Friday, when the exhibit, which has been closed to the public since the baby's birth, reopens at 11 a.m.

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