After an extended holiday in Miami, Tique, a 26-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin who resides at the Shedd Aquarium, returned home last year revealing that she is in the family way.
Officials at the Shedd, which has a collection of four female dolphins but no males, is elated by the news, expecting that Tique (pronounced TEE-kay), will give birth in the latter half of May.
During the relining and remodeling of the Shedd’s Oceanarium whale and dolphin pools a couple of years ago, Tique and another of Shedd’s female dolphins, Kri (Cree), went to Miami’s Seaquarium, hoping that they would find romance with a male dolphin there, Lii. Both females did mate with Lii, but only Tique came home pregnant, said Ken Ramirez, the Shedd’s chief marine mammal trainer.
“Pacific white-sided dolphins have pregnancies that last about 11 1/2 months,” said Ramirez, “so that makes us think that she will give birth in the latter half of May, though it could go up to six weeks earlier or later.”
It is Tique’s third pregnancy, but neither of her earlier calves survived, he said. Her first was still-born and the second died a couple days after birth at the Oceanarium.
Only 20 Pacific white-sided dolphins currently live in captivity in North America, Ramirez said, so the institutions holding members of the species work closely together in a cooperative effort to breed them. Another of the Shedd’s four females currently is living in Miami, also in the hope she will come home pregnant, he said.
Currently Tique continues to live and perform in shows with the Aquarium’s other dolphins because “we want them to continue to socialize and get the exercise they need”, but when she goes into labor she will be isolated.