The adorable moment a bottlenose dolphin gave birth at a Chicago zoo has been caught on camera, showing the touching moment the mother helped her baby swim to the surface to take her first breath.
Brookfield Zoo’s latest arrival was born at about 11am on Friday last week, two hours after her 26-year-old mother showed signs of being in labor.
A video shows Allie twisting through the water while another member of the pod keeps a close watch as the baby is born tail first.
Although the 3ft long calf was born at a healthy 40lb the next 30 days will be critical for the young dolphin and her mother.
As well at capturing the birth, the video showed the touching moments afterwards as the bottlenose dolphin bonded with her calf and nursed her, as well as allowing the calf to rest in her slipstream.
The mother will produce milk for 18 months which, according to SeaWorld, has the consistency of a milkshake. The calf will then be taught to hunt fish.
‘We are encouraged right now with the behaviour we are seeing from both Allie and the calf,’ Rita Stacey, of Chicago Zoological Society, said.
‘However, we remain cautiously optimistic as the first 30 days are extremely critical in the calf’s life.’
Since becoming pregnant 12 months ago, Allie the dolphin has been monitored closely and had regular ultrasounds to check on the unborn calf’s progress.
During her labor the dolphin was kept company by another female at the zoo, Tapeko, who has had several calves in the past and is due to have another later this year.
The zoo has closed off its dolphin exhibit while the new mother and calf settle into a routine. When they are first born, calves must be helped to the surface to breathe, and feed regularly from their mothers.
It will be a while before the new addition makes her first public debut, but Sondra Katzen told the Chicago Tribune: ‘We’re definitely excited.’
When she is a little older the calf, which has not yet been named, will join her mother and the other bottlenose dolphins in the Brookfield Zoo Seven Seas exhibit.