Georgia Aquarium animal care staff assist new mother as she bonds and learns to navigate the exhibit with the newborn calf.
ATLANTA - Officials at the Georgia Aquarium announced the death of the newborn beluga whale that was born to mother beluga Maris last Friday evening.
"This is an extremely sad day for the Georgia Aquarium family. Over the past few days, our veterinary and animal care teams have been giving around-the-clock care to Maris and her calf," said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer. "We initially became concerned when the calf was born and needed assistance from the divers to bring it to the surface to breathe. The calf was significantly underweight and appeared to have a significant number of medical issues. Based on our knowledge of healthy calves, we knew this calf would probably not survive, but our hearts gave us hope that she might be able to pull through. Our primary concern now is the well-being of Maris."
PHOTOS | Newborn beluga in critical condition
Officials said first-time pregnancies in marine mammals are often unsuccessful in both their natural habitat and in human care. They said 17-year-old Maris had carried the calf to full-term.
Aquarium officials said a necropsy is being performed by veterinarians from the Georgia Aquarium and other health specialists from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Results will be finalized over the next few weeks, but officials emphasize that the actual cause of death may never be known.
The beluga whale exhibit has been closed to the public. Maris will remain under constant observation and care.