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Newborn dolphin calf now nursing, vocalizing, bonding with mom

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Updated: June 1, 2012 2:23PM

The new dolphin born at the Shedd this week is nursing, vocalizing, bonding with mom and learning to swim next to her, all important milestones in its development, officials said Friday.

The dolphin was born on Monday, and is now nursing regularly from mother Piquet, a 24-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin.

That represents a “critical milestone,” officials said.

The baby dolphin has bonded with Piquet and learned to swim in her wake to save energy.

“Our animal care team has seen a number of firsts for the calf,” Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President of Animal Care and Training, said in a written statement. “The calf started demonstrating early signs of important learning behavior, such as mimicry and after Piquet vocalized, we heard a definitive vocalization from the calf.”

Still, officials “remain extremely cautious as we continue to keep a close eye on both mom and calf’s development during the critical first weeks.”

They still don’t know the newborn’s gender, because “Piquet is a wonderfully attentive mom, so we have not needed to provide hands-on care,” said Caryn Poll, DVM, section chief of medicine at Shedd.

Mother and baby will remain off exhibit for a few more weeks, officials said.

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