WAIMANALO (KHNL) - Sea Life Park is welcoming its newest addition. Hi'iaka, a bottlenose dolphin gave birth to a healthy baby calf named Lupita on March 22nd. The baby calf is under the close care and supervision of the park staff. Baby Lupita has been spending her time by her mother's side nursing every 20 to 40 minutes.
"Within five to ten minutes, the baby popped out," says Animal trainer Tammy Goodreau.
Goodreau was one of the staffers who welcomed the healthy 40 pound calf into the world.
"It was just excitement. It definitely brings you closer because within a day, Hi'iaka the mother was having us come up and rub her down," says Goodreau.
Goodreau admits, she treats the dolphins like her kids.
"These are absolutely, absolutely our children. We care for them. We care for them deeply."
In fact, she strives to build a trusting relationship with the mammals.
"You're dealing with animals that are sometimes over 500 to 800 pounds, there has to be a trust, a strong trust factor," says Goodreau.
"She's going to learn to interact with dolphins and other trainers through the help with trainers and develop the many skills on how she can interact with them to make it fun and exciting," says Park General Manager Dr. Renato Lenzi.
Dr. Lenzi says the birth of Lupita is important in helping to restore the dolphin population.
"The success rate in the wild is less than 50% of dolphins will be able to have successful birth in calves to reach one year of age.
Lupita will spend the next two years nursing by her mother's side. Tammy and the other staffers will be right there, watching her grow.
"You have to love this job. You have to love this job, because it is, it is a life commitment," says Goodreau.