A baby beluga whale born at the end of August is starting to shed its slate-colored skin for the more mature creamy-white covering, and the baby is a "she," aquarium staff have just announced.
The ever-growing calf, now 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, will make her public debut Friday (Oct. 26) at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Both mom and baby are plumping up, as the calf weighs about 205 pounds (93 kilograms) and is steadily packing on 12 to 15 pounds a week. Her 1,200-pound mom Mauyak has nearly tripled her normal diet — downing up to 88 pounds (40 kg) of fish daily — to accommodate a hungry, nursing calf.
"In just two months, the calf has gained weight and reached significant milestones, including bonding with mom, nursing and meeting all of the other belugas," Ken Ramirez, Shedd's executive vice president of animal care and training, said in a statement.