Bella_BelugaShe chirps. She breaches. She even dances, in a head-bobbing sort of way. We’re talking about beluga whale Bella, who turns 3 years old on Friday, July 17.

It’s only natural that you can see Bella confidently strutting her stuff during training sessions (and watch for her in the new aquatic show debuting later this summer). At 4 months, she became an international media star when ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” show ran an online contest to name her. “Bella” was the hands-down winner, and the little whale got comfortable with TV crews and bright lights – with her protective mom, Puiji, by her side, of course.

Bella is a big girl now – 7½ feet long and 700 pounds – and she no longer spends much time with Puiji as the mother-calf bond naturally diminishes. Instead, she hangs out with 10-year-old Kayavak, who puts up with the bouncy youngster much as a human teen would a younger sibling who always tags along. (The two whales are not, however, related.) Both are very playful, and they vie for attention, especially tongue tickles, from the trainers.

Bella does seem to have a special arrangement with Miki, a male beluga who is a year younger than our birthday girl. Miki is still enjoying the gastronomic and nutritional benefits of two cuisines – mother’s milk and fish. He often shares his fish with Bella, to her delight.

Join us in wishing Bella a whale of a happy birthday!

Posted by Karen Furnweger, web editor