Sections

Baby walrus on board! Aquarium’s newest inhabitant flies in from Alaska

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Meet Brooklyn’s newest transplant: he’s only four months old, and he’s already got the hippest mustache in town.

The New York Aquarium will welcome Mitik — a rambunctious, 250-pound baby walrus saved by kindly fisherman who spotted the orphan struggling in the open ocean off Alaska.

This new gentlemen of the sea will be the only male walrus in the Coney Island herd — and he’s already got plenty of fans.

“My gosh, he is the cutest thing ever,” said Nancy Anderson, executive assistant at the Alaska SeaLife Center, where the stranded calf regained his health after being plucked from the Arctic Ocean, six miles offshore of Alaska’s North Slope.

Mitik was most likely born amidst a passing, thousand-strong herd of barking walruses; social sea mammals, who spend most of their time looking for grub on the ocean’s muddy floor, but often take to icebergs whenever they need a little R&R.

“There was a group of about 1,000 walruses who went by on an ice flow, about 12 days before Mitik was found,” said Alaska SeaLife Center president and CEO Tara Jones. “He was potentially separated from his mother for several weeks, and he was in a pretty challenging medical condition when we found him.”

Mitik was so ill and desperate that he actually approached and swam alongside the fishing boat that eventually saved him — extremely unusual behavior for a healthy walrus, according to the aquarium’s president.

Staff at the Alaskan aquarium put plenty of love, veterinary expertise, and a ton of overtime into rehabilitating the dehydrated and sickly sea mammal, who required 24-hour supervision since the moment he set flipper on aquarium grounds.

“The biggest challenge for us was that walruses need 24/7 care,” Jones said. “Mitik had a good number of medical problems, a lot of complications that took several weeks to work through.”

But if you have to work overtime, there’s no better gig than hanging out with an adorable, cuddle-hungry walrus pup.

“They’re very social, tactile animals, so in addition to having people around, they want to snuggle and be close to people,” said Jones. “It is work, but there are worse things to do than hang out with a walrus.”

Mitik was actually the second orphan found in the wake of the walrus-packed ice flow — Pakak, another boy, was found seven days before Mitik and they recovered together.

At first, Pakak — who is headed to the Indianapolis Zoo — used his larger size to dominate Mitik, but the Brooklyn–bound pup is no longer letting himself get pushed around, handlers say.

“Mitik was originally smaller and weaker, but he recently started standing up to Pakak,” said Jones. “They interact very well; at times they’re sleeping on top of each other, sometimes they’re barking at each other. It’ll be interesting to see how his personality develops.”

When Mitik arrives at the New York Aquarium, he will spend some time in quarantine before meeting his new roommates — Brooklyn legends Kulu and Nuka — and joining the exhibit next year.

His arrival is huge news for aquatic aficionados in the borough, as popular male walruses died tragically in recent years. First went Ayveq who passed after bringing so much pleasure to Coney Island, followed by his son Akituusaq, who did not survive to see his third birthday.

So Matik’s arrival is obviously a big deal — but it raises a big question: how do you ship a walrus from one end of the country to the other?

FedEx, of course.

Mitik and Pakak left the Alaska aquarium on Oct. 10, taking the three-hour drive to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, where workers put them in crates and sent them their separate ways into the bellies of FedEx jets.

They weren’t alone, however. Mitik met Martha Hiatt, New York Aquarium animal department supervisor after she flew out to Alaska two weeks ago, and they will come to Brooklyn together.s

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
I work right across the commons from Brooklyn Paper. You want me to bite on this and give you page hits you will have to buy me lunch. Send me a sign of a single anti-cycling story and I will boost your circulation and figure out a way that you can buy me some five-guy fries. Otherwise eat your own bait.
Oct. 11, 2012, 8 pm
Roofus Leaking from Coney says:
Ther esemblance to Marty Markowitz is overwhemling
Oct. 13, 2012, 5:31 pm
Alaska SeaLife Center from Seward, AK says:
Thanks for sharing Mitik and Pakak's stories. We appreciate spreading the word about these two amazing animals.

If you would like to see more videos of these two, check out these three videos that we took during their stay with us.

This was of Pakak a few days after he arrived at our facility, the Alaska SeaLife Center - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az9z9rBUwig

Here Pakak enjoys his pool - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzPrw1BE4Ws

In this video you can see both Mikik and Pakak - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvvwMopeFfM

For more pictures check out our FB fanpage - https://www.facebook.com/AlaskaSeaLifeCenter

To help us help others like Mitik and Pakak, please consider donating - http://www.alaskasealife.org/New/about-ASLC/index.php?page=donations.php

Alaska SeaLife Center
Seward, Alaska
Oct. 15, 2012, 4:03 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.