Staff and excited visitors at the Vancouver Aquarium welcomed a new baby beluga whale into their marine family on Sunday – the aquarium’s second beluga birth in less than a year.
Aurora, 21, who is already a grandmother, went into labour just before noon, and four hours later her baby was born — or “hatched,” according to one little girl who watched the event with her mom.
The aquarium invited the public to watch the birth and hundreds of spectators, volunteers and staff erupted in cheers when the female calf finally emerged and swam to the surface for its first breath.
Viewers in the underwater observation deck were on pins and needles, gasping each time the calf partially emerged and then went back in.
Some cheered Aurora on, saying “push” and “you can do it.”
“I could see the baby was moving in mommy’s tummy and its tail was wiggling,” said Donny Fu, 5, who watched the birth with his parents.
“I could see (her) come out and go in and out and in. Everyone was excited and I was excited, too.”
Clint Wright, senior vice president of operations with the aquarium, said the birth went swimmingly.
“It was an absolutely picture perfect birth,” he said. “Aurora is a very experienced mother and she just looked calm and relaxed. They bonded right away.”
Wright said staff will be monitoring the pair closely over the next few hours to make sure the calf starts to nurse.