Ayveq, the walrus whose bizarre, though oddly compelling, masturbation rituals made him an international sensation at the New York Aquarium, has died. He was 14.
Though well-liked long before he discovered the habit that would make him a star, Ayveq’s frequent public self-gratification made him the Coney Island institution’s singular attraction.
“We are all still in shock about it,” Aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin said. “He was an absolute delight. He had a magnetism and a charm that was totally his own. He loved people and he knew how to work a crowd and entertain guests.
“And himself,” Dohlin added. “He did have a raffish charm, no doubt about it.”
The Aquarium said workers discovered that Avyeq was ailing on Sunday, June 15.
“On Saturday night, he was perfect — no problems at all,” said Dohlin, “but the next morning, we could see that he was not right.”
Within one week, he was dead, most likely of a “massive” bacterial infection, Dohlin said.
“We tried everything, but it progressed so rapidly,” he said.
The exact cause of death will not be known until an autopsy.
Ayveq moved to the Aquarium from his native Alaska in 1994, shortly after he and two brothers were orphaned. His name, curiously enough, means “walrus” in Siberian Yupik.
The death of Ayveq comes almost exactly a year after the birth of his only (known) son, Akituusaq, whom he sired with the female, Kulusiq after years of unrequited courting.