WATCH: Shedd welcomes dolphin calf just in time for spring

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New mom Katrl and her Pacific white-sided dolphin calf. | ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - The Shedd Aquarium has a new arrival just in time for spring – a Pacific white-sided dolphin calf was born Monday morning at the aquarium.

The calf’s gender is not yet known, but it is estimated to be about three feet long and weigh about 25 pounds, according to a statement announcing the calf’s birth. Though the Shedd team remains “cautiously optimistic,” the calf and mom Katrl appear healthy.

This is the first calf for Katrl, who gave birth at 9:14 a.m. after three hours labor with more than 40 staff members and veterinary staff standing by, according to the release. She routinely swam to her trainers for rubdowns, and snacked on capelin and herring.

There are only 16 Pacific white-sided dolphins in North American zoos, making the birth even more significant, according to the release.

“To watch a dolphin be born is beautiful, but to also see its natural instincts fully take over in a matter of seconds as it kicks its tiny tail to propel its little body to the surface to take its first breath is overwhelmingly emotional,” the Shedd’s senior director of marine mammals Lisa Takaki said in the release.

“We are overjoyed that both mom and calf are doing well in these critical first few hours, but we also know we are not out of the woods,” Takaki said. Both mom and calf will remain under 24-hour observation for several months.

Both Katrl and the calf will remain off public view to allow for bonding and privacy, but most of the Abbott Oceanarium remains open to the public, according to the release.