ATLANTA (May 11, 2015) – At 1:25 a.m. EST on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, Maris, one of Georgia Aquarium’s resident beluga whales, successfully gave birth to a female calf. Shortly after birth, the calf swam to the surface for its first breath, an important milestone. The calf is under 24-hour professional care as Aquarium experts constantly monitor mother and calf for bonding and nursing.


Through months of pre-birth preparations including routine health checks, fetal monitoring via ultrasound and intensive staff training, Maris and the team were well prepared for a smooth labor and delivery. Since mid-March, Georgia Aquarium’s passionate and dedicated animal care and veterinary teams have observed the expectant mother 24-hours per day to collect pregnancy information and to monitor Maris’s health and wellbeing during this very exciting time. Staff at the Aquarium have shared in some of Maris’ biggest moments, from her pregnancy to the special moment when she became a mother on Mother’s Day.

“Since the moment of birth, our animal care and veterinary teams have been giving around-the-clock care to Maris and her calf, taking every measure possible to ensure that the calf thrives,” said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president & chief veterinary officer. “Our team was able to give mom and calf physical exams. The calf weighs approximately 126.5 pounds and is 59 inches in length. Thus far, we are very encouraged by what we are seeing from both mom and calf.”

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Beluga whale Maris and her newborn calf are closely observed by Georgia Aquarium animal care and veterinary staff during the first few hours after the calf’s birth.

“Our experienced team is providing the best care available to both calf and mom and will continue to provide 24-hour care as long as is required. Animal care is the top priority at Georgia Aquarium, and our team continues to fulfill our commitment to do whatever it takes to provide the finest care for our animals,” said Eric Gaglione, director of zoological operations, mammals and birds, at Georgia Aquarium.

Georgia Aquarium is one of seven accredited North American aquariums and zoos committed to educational public display and conservation of beluga whales, and will continue to share the vital knowledge gained through this pregnancy and birth with the marine mammal community. Because of the extraordinary, long-term care beluga whales receive at accredited zoological organizations like Georgia Aquarium, this birth is significant as it is the first viable calf to be born from parents who were born in human care. Maris was born at the New York Aquarium in 1994, and the father, Beethoven, was born at SeaWorld San Antonio in 1992.

Beluga Calf Physical Exam

Click here to view beluga whale fact sheet.  

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ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the world’s most dynamic aquariums—containing more than 10 million gallons of water and the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of Georgia Aquarium is to be a premier scientific institution delivering an awe-inspiring entertainment experience which supports animal research and conservation; inspires learning; and instills a passion for the aquatic world. Its exhibits and programs are of the highest standards, offering engaging guest encounters that promote the conservation of marine biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org