A baby walrus that required round-the-clock cuddles after being rescued from an Alaskan oil field has tragically died. He was believed to be about 1 month old.
“We are heartbroken to share that the walrus calf admitted to the ASLC Wildlife Response Program on August 1, 2023, passed away this morning after his condition took a turn for the worse,” the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) said in a statement Friday.
The calf, found miles from the ocean on Alaska’s North Slope, had been suffering “a number of serious health concerns,” including nutrient malabsorption, according to the ASLC.
The organization’s director of animal health reported the brown, wrinkly-skinned baby also struggled with hypoglycemia and gastrointestinal problems in the hours leading up to his death.
“Though our animal care teams worked tirelessly to provide round-the-clock critical care treatments, never leaving his side, the calf ultimately succumbed to his condition,” the ASLC statement continued.
Young walruses depend on their mothers for the first two years of life.
The ASLC, which is based in Seward, fed the walrus by bottle and gave it near-constant physical contact.
An examination of its death is planned for the days ahead.
“While often rewarding, wildlife rescue is inherently unpredictable and comes with it the possibility of great loss. For those that dedicate their lives to animal care, this is the hardest part of the job,” the ASLC said.
It’s unclear how the walrus ended up about 4 miles inland from the Beaufort Sea, in Alaska’s extreme north. No other walruses were found nearby.
He was the ASLC’s first walrus in four years and only the 10th in its 25-year history.
In 2012, a 15-week-old walrus rescued off Alaska was sent to the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn to recover.
At the time, Mitik joined two other walruses at the Coney Island aquarium, 30-year-old Nuka and 17-year-old Kulu.
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