Georgia Aquarium beluga whale to give birth - CBS46 News

Georgia Aquarium beluga whale to give birth

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Source: Georgia Aquarium Source: Georgia Aquarium
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

One of Georgia Aquarium's two adult beluga whales, 17-year-old Maris, is expected to give birth to her first calf in late spring 2012.

Beluga whale experts estimate the gestation period for belugas is approximately 475 days.

Although first-time pregnancies in cetacean mothers are often unsuccessful in both natural habitats and in human care, Aquarium officials are guardedly optimistic for a successful birth.

Georgia Aquarium will be carefully monitoring Maris' health during this period.

"Georgia Aquarium's animal training and veterinary teams provide world-class care and dedicate their lives to these extraordinary animals," Georgia Aquarium Senior Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer Gregory Bossart said. "With only 35 beluga whales in human care in North America, it is important that we play a leadership role in helping the zoo and aquarium community maintain a sustainable population of beluga whales to support our mission of aquatic animal conservation and research."

Georgia Aquarium has cared for Maris since it opened in 2005. She is on breeding loan from the New York Aquarium, where she was born.

Aquarium officials plan to share updates on Maris' pregnancy with the public on its website and on Twitter and Facebook.

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