Piquet the dolphin danced gracefully through her tank at Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium
, 1200 S.
John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lake Shore Drive, earlier this month as her two-week-old son swan circles around her, seemingly aware that a crowd had gathered in his honor.
The aquarium’s newest addition, a rare pacific white-sided dolphin, was unveiled to the media for the first time June 12. Photographers vied for space at the underwater viewing port as aquarium staff eagerly explained the significance of Piquet’s calf to curious reporters.
“This particular species is not found near the coast, so there are aspects about its life and the way it lives that we’ve never seen, monitored or understood in the wild,” said Ken Ramirez, the Shedd Aquarium’s executive vice president of animal collections and training. “The more we understand about the life cycle of these animals, the easier it is for us to make smart decisions about our activities in the wild.”
The dolphin was born on Memorial Day following the Shedd Aquarium’s participation in a breeding cooperative with four other facilities where pacific white-sided dolphins are housed in captivity, said Shedd Aquarium Director of Communications Andrea Smalec.
The youngster is one of 20 pacific white-sided dolphins in captivity across North America, according to Ramirez, who said their preferred habitat in offshore waters has obscured their natural behavior to researchers as opposed to the well-known bottlenose dolphins that can be observed closer to shore.
Aquarium staff are waiting to name the dolphin until the learn more about his personality, Ramirez said. Until then, they will focus on his physical and social development, which is proceeding smoothly.
The first two years will be a critical time for the young dolphin, after which he will be independent of his mother, according to Maggie Hassler, public relations coordinator at the aquarium.
“We are very excited that there hasn’t been a very hands-on approach to care [for the dolphin],” she said. “But until he is independent of his mother, we will monitor him by the minute and by the second.”