Coney Island’s Orphaned Walrus Pup FedExed To Texas

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

New York Aquarium’s walrus Mitik, who captured the hearts of New Yorkers when he arrived orphaned and ill in 2012, has been shipped out to SeaWorld Texas for a summer getaway.

Mitik was sent off as the aquarium continues to undergo renovations and repairs following Superstorm Sandy, and as construction on its new shark exhibit begins. Caretakers at the aquarium were concerned that the construction would tax to the still-healing pup’s health.

Mitik, or Mit as he is more affectionately known, was discovered on the coast of Alaska by fishermen, tragically orphaned, dehydrated and suffering other ailments. He was not expected to survive, but responded well to his care at the Alaska SeaLife Center and then his new home at 602 Surf Avenue in Coney Island.

When he arrived at a mere 15 weeks old,  he weighed just 234 pounds, according to the New York Times. He’s now 700 pounds of blubbery cuteness.

While there’s plenty of construction being done at the aquarium, caretakers were most concerned with the upgrades necessary at the Sea Cliffs, where the walruses live. The New York Times explains:

But the construction that would have had a potentially negative impact on Mitik centered on lingering issues from the hurricane. Sea Cliffs, where the aquarium’s two existing adult female walruses live, needed upgrades to its circulation and temperature controls. Other exhibits and structures that will undergo hurricane-related reconstruction include Alien Stingers, Explore the Shore and the cafe.
The Sea Cliffs construction, which should be completed by the opening of Ocean Wonders, will involve draining the pools in the outdoor exhibit and moving the two walruses, Kulu and Nuka, to a holding area. Meanwhile, Mitik, who has remained behind-the-scenes in the aquarium’s hospital since his arrival, had just reached the stage where he was ready to finally meet, and begin socializing with, the two female walruses.
“Mitik is at the end of his weaning cycle and his tusks are just coming in, and we want him to have a lot of room and a lot of enrichment,” Mr. Dohlin said.
“Our two existing walruses are very socialized together and they are acclimated to the system,” he added. “They move back and forth between exhibit and holding areas with a minimum of trouble. But with a young animal, it’s not great for his socialization to be pulled back and forth like that. And it can get crowded in the back of the house.”

Now that he’s in Texas, they’re pairing Mitik up with a 26-year-old cradle-robbing lady-walrus named Takena. Summer fling, don’t mean a thing. But, oh, oh, the summer nights.

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