New York Aquarium Gets Baby Orphaned Walrus; Meet Mitik [VIDEO]

By Amir Khan on October 11, 2012 9:23 AM EDT

Mitik
A 234-pound baby walrus is heading to New York's Aquarium in Brooklyn (Photo: Alaska SeaLife Center)

 

A 234-pound baby walrus is heading to New York's Aquarium in Brooklyn. The 15-week-old animal was rescued off of the coast of Alaska in July, and the aquarium received him early Thursday morning.

The NYC aquarium, in Coney Island, is one of the few in the world that has walruses on exhibit. The institution already has two, Nuka, 30-years-old, and Kulu, 17. Now, the 15-week-old Mitik will join them.

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Mitik and his sibling Pakak, who is heading to the Indianapolis zoo, were separated from their herd in July. Local residents rescued the animals and delivered them to the Alaska SeaLife Center, which nursed them back to health.

"These 'little' guys have been a ton of work, but the work was so satisfying that it was nearly impossible to be bothered by it," Dr. Tara Jones, President of the Alaska SeaLife Center told ABCNews.com. "We will miss those two very social, inquisitive animals that always wanted attention."

Walruses typically live to 40-years-old, so Nuka is approaching the end of her life, aquarium staff said. They said the infusion of new blood is good for Kulu.

"Our concern is that our very elderly walrus could pass away, as these things go," Jon Dohlin, the director of the aquarium, told The New York Times. "That would leave us in a pickle because we really wouldn't want to have a solitary animal."

Mitik will spend time in quarantine to ensure that he is healthy before he goes on display in the spring. Jones said she hopes Mitik will inspire people to take more of an interest in the animals.

"Our greatest hope is that these animals will grow into healthy adults who are a part of a strong social group," Jones said. "And throughout their lives, we hope that they inspire the public to learn about the arctic ecosystem that these amazing sea ice-dependent animals call home."

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