The Shedd Aquarium announced Tuesday that one of its beluga whales is pregnant and is expected to give birth next summer.
Mauyak, a 37-year-old beluga whale, last gave birth in 2012 to a calf named Kimalu.
“Mauyak is progressing beautifully, and our suite of veterinarians and beluga care team are working in sync to regularly check her and the developing calf,” said Steve Aibel, senior director of marine mammals at the Shedd.
Muyak – whose name means “soft snow” in Inuit – won’t change her routine even though that she is expecting, Shedd officials said. She spends her days swimming with other belugas, interacting with the aquarium staff and guests, and taking part in daily aquatic shows.
Staff at the Shedd expressed excitement over the pregnancy.
“In addition to the excitement and joy of an aquarium birth, each new arrival affords our team and our professional community the opportunity to grow our understanding of how to care for animals here and in the wild. There is no better feeling than taking what we learn at Shedd and applying it to a rescue operation in the field or a conservation effort to safeguard this species,” said Peggy Sloan, chiefanimal operations officer.