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Thursday, January 23, 2014

SeaWorld Takes In An Orphaned Baby Walrus

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 1:23 PM

click to enlarge mitik-walrusjpg

Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

In a classic case of “look at the birdie,” SeaWorld has found an opportunity to distract from recent bad press over the documentary Blackfish with, seriously, the most adorable baby walrus ever.

Meet Mitik, an orphaned calf who, despite being the very embodiment of cute overload, hasn’t had the best of luck. In the fall of 2012, he and a female walrus were separated from their herd and rescued in the open ocean by the Alaska Sea Life Center. The 15-week-old Mitik was then transported New York Aquarium in Coney Island, but just as he was adapting his new home, the aquarium was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Now Mitik is making his temporary home at SeaWorld San Antonio as the aquarium undergoes two years of renovations and repairs.

The mustachioed sea mammal is a bit of a celebrity in New York, despite having yet to make his public debut. The walrus was being weaned behind-the-scenes before he was to be introduced to the New York Aquarium’s other two walrus inhabitants. Now, Mitik, who made the move to San Antonio via FedEx cargo jet on January 14, will learn to socialize with SeaWorld’s 26-year-old female walrus Takena.

“He’s got a big pool and has plenty of room for physical growth and exercise,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, vice president and director of the New York Aquarium, to the New York Times. “But he’s making a funny transition from understanding that he’s a human to understanding that he’s a walrus.”

That’s right, Mitik thinks he’s people, which is silly because he has flippers, tiny, adorable flippers.

According to Brian Carter, spokesman for SeaWorld San Antonio, Mitik’s cross-country relocation has been a smooth one. Two animal keepers from the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the New York Aquarium, have been working with SeaWorld trainers to ensure Mitik adjusts to his new home.

“Mitik is acclimating well to his new surroundings. He’s eating well, and our trainers have been delighted by his calm and gentle demeanor,” Carter said.

Those wanting to see Mitik up close may have to wait. SeaWorld has yet to announce plans for his public debut.


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