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DOWNTOWN: Georgia Aquarium beluga whale is pregnant | News

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DOWNTOWN: Georgia Aquarium beluga whale is pregnant
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ATLANTA -- The Georgia Aquarium is expecting a new addition next year.

Aquarium officials announced Wednesday that Maris, a 17-year-old beluga whale, is pregnant with her first calf. They believe she will give birth in late spring 2012.

A beluga whale's gestation period is about 475 days. Maris' pregnancy is being closely monitored by aquarium veterinarians, as first-time pregnancies among whales and dolphins are often unsuccessful in their natural habitat as well as when they are in the care of humans.

"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," Georgia Aquarium senior vice president Gregory Bossart said in a statement.

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

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