A Fat, Mustachioed Orphan Finds a Home

October 10, 2012

After being discovered off the coast of Alaska, two unrelated walrus orphans received treatment at the Alaska SeaLife Center. One of the marine miracles is bound for a new life at the New York Aquarium.

At 234 pounds, Mitik is a substantially sized baby, so transporting him from the Alaska SeaLife Center to his new digs at the New York Aquarium was no easy feat. He’d been there since July, when Alaskan fisherman discovered him and another unrelated orphaned calf struggling to survive off the coast near Barrow.

Rescue came from staff at the Alaska SeaLife Center, who began providing the continuous care these calves require. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended sending the walruses, Mitik and Panak, to the New York Aquarium and Indianapolis Zoo, and today, Mitik arrives on Coney Island.

Speaking about Mitik’s journey from Alaska, Jon Dohlin, Director of the New York Aquarium said, “If he’s calm and comfortable, no worries, but his needs and comfort come first. So he may very well travel with his head in our keeper’s lap.”

Although Mitik has been experiencing health problems, Dohlin says he is “hopeful he will make a full recovery and one day be exhibited with our other walruses at the New York Aquarium.” Staff at the New York Aquarium will continue monitoring Mitik for 24 hours a day, and the young calf will be bottle-fed until he’s fully weaned.

While the Aquarium and Indianapolis Zoo tend to Mitik and Panak, the Wildlife Conservation Society continues to fight for walruses in the wild. With increased environmental threats in the Arctic, many walruses are heading for land, where overcrowding may cause diseases to spread among populations. To read about our walrus conservation efforts, click here.

To learn more about Mitik’s future at the New York Aquarium, read this article by the New York Times>>