“Mom and baby are doing great,” said senior animal-care specialist Mike Hopkins. “The baby starting nursing right away and that’s what we hoped for. We expect to see the baby start to gain weight quickly because of the rich milk from mom.”
The event marked the fifth time a dolphin calf has been born at SeaWorld San Diego. Trainers monitor the mother and baby around the clock, documenting respirations and nursing frequency.
It was not immediately clear what gender the baby dolphin is, but that should become clear in the coming weeks, said SeaWorld officials.
Dolphins have a 12-month gestation period.
SeaWorld is world-renowned for its breeding program, with successful births of several species of dolphins, in addition to killer whales, sea lions, walruses and other marine animals. While this latest birth was the result of natural breeding, SeaWorld is an international leader in research and application of artificial insemination.
In 2001, the world’s first marine mammal conceived as a result of artificial insemination was welcomed into SeaWorld’s family. In 2005, SeaWorld took that expertise a step further, with the birth of the world’s first sex-selected zoological species, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.