A female walrus and her newborn pup are doing well, but staff at the Quebec City aquarium are keeping a close eye on them.

Arnaliaq gave birth to her first pup on Saturday.

"Right now everything is going perfectly," said Jill Marvin, the director of animal conservation at the Quebec City aquarium. "We're very, very pleased. The baby's milking. Mom is taking such excellent care [of] him."

'We're very, very pleased. The baby's milking.' - Jill Marvin, director of animal conservation at the Quebec City aquarium

But Marvin says staff members are still keeping an eye on the two and prepared in case something goes awry.

"We've had some nice long sleeps that have made us a little worried. Sunday afternoon they slept for about three hours and when you don't see them moving it's kind of a little bit nerve-racking," Marvin said.

"But Arnie woke up the baby and moved the baby with her front flippers towards her nipples to have a drink. The baby's latching on perfectly."

Private space, time to adjust

Marvin said no one was present during the birth. Aquarium staff watched the event on cameras.

Since then, the mother and pup have been left alone inside a special birthing room and are kept away from other animals. In the wild, female walruses usually go on ice by themselves when they calve.

"We're trying to replicate or give the opportunity for Arnie to have about the same thing that we've seen in other zoological institutions and trying to respond to her as well," said Marvin.

Staff can't confirm the gender yet and haven't weighed the pup. The average weight for a newborn is between 40 and 70 kilograms, she said.

This is the first walrus to be born in captivity in Canada, and only the seventh such birth in North America since 1930.

Marvin said there aren't many walruses kept at accredited zoos or aquariums in North America, and breeding pairs are also rare.

Samka, the other pregnant walrus at the aquarium due at the beginning of June, is now inside another birthing room just beside Arnaliaq and its pup.