ATLANTA – A beluga whale calf born at the Georgia Aquarium last month has stopped nursing, is not gaining weight and appears to be fighting for her life, with officials this week calling her condition “extremely guarded.”
“The next few days will be critical,” the aquarium said in its latest statement issued on Wednesday.
The calf, born on May 10, is one of six successful beluga whale births at accredited U.S. facilities in the last five years, according to Aquarium spokeswoman Jessica Fontana.
Yet she has been growing behind schedule for her age even while still nursing and consuming formula.
“We have been working around the clock since the animal’s birth to monitor and support both mother and calf, including consulting and working with the very best experts in the field of veterinary medicine,” the Aquarium said.
The calf’s mother, Maris, gave birth in 2012 but that baby did not survive, the Aquarium said.
Belugas, or white whales, normally inhabit Arctic or sub-Arctic waters and are classified as endangered in some areas and as “near threatened” worldwide, according to the Georgia Aquarium.