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Georgia Aquarium Announces Beluga Whale Pregnancy

Atlanta (November 16, 2011) – Georgia Aquarium announced today that one of its two adult beluga whales is pregnant. Seventeen-year-old Maris is expected to give birth to her first calf in late spring 2012. Although first-time pregnancies in cetaceans are often unsuccessful in both their natural habitat and in human care, any animal pregnancy is an opportunity for study and the advancement of marine knowledge, and Aquarium officials are guardedly optimistic for a successful birth. Georgia Aquarium is committed to providing the best health care for Maris throughout the pregnancy and afterwards, as it is for all animals in its care.

Beluga whale experts estimate that the gestation period for belugas is approximately 475 days. A first-time pregnancy for the beluga, Maris’ health and well-being are being closely monitored, as is that of the three other beluga whales which reside within the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest gallery. Chances for a successful birth increase with every beluga whale pregnancy, however, and by carefully monitoring Maris’ health during this period while providing her with the best possible care; Georgia Aquarium will contribute to this growing body of research.

Maris has lived at the world’s largest aquarium since it opened in 2005. She is on breeding loan from the New York Aquarium, where she was born.

“Georgia Aquarium’s animal training and veterinary teams provide world-class care and dedicate their lives to these extraordinary animals,” Georgia Aquarium Senior Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer Gregory Bossart said.

“With only 35 beluga whales in human care in the U.S., it is important that we play a leadership role in helping the zoo and aquarium community maintain a sustainable population of beluga whales to support our mission of aquatic animal conservation and research.”

As one of six U.S. aquariums and zoos that care for beluga whales, Georgia Aquarium is dedicated to saving the species through conservation and research programs in their native habitats, focused research on the animals in our care, participation in cooperative management and breeding programs, as well as educational initiatives which inspire others to care about these animals.

Aquarium officials plan to share updates on Maris’ pregnancy with the public on its website and social media channels.

For more information, contact Public Relations:

Scott Higley
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
404.581.4106
shigley@georgiaaquarium.org

Mackenzie Anderson
Specialist, Public Relations
404.581.4230
manderson@georgiaaquarium.org

ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM
Georgia Aquarium is the world’s largest, with more than 10 million gallons of water and six permanent galleries. It is considered one of the top Atlanta attractions and one of the best Atlanta sightseeing activities. The mission of Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, while promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity. Georgia Aquarium offers events in Atlanta throughout the year for guests of all ages, as well as engaging Atlanta kids’ activities and programs. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.

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