Rare walrus calf under ‘cuddle care’ dies in Alaska
A rescued baby walrus that required round-the-clock cuddles as part of its treatment died on Friday in the US state of Alaska, media reported.
The Pacific walrus calf was believed to be about one month old.
It had been found alone about 6km inland from the Beaufort Sea, in the extreme northern part of the state and admitted to the Alaska Sea Life Centre on Aug 1.
The centre said on Saturday the calf had been suffering “a number of serious health concerns” and its condition took a turn for the worse.
The organisation said the brown, wrinkly-skinned baby had struggled with several ailments, including gastrointestinal problems, leading up to its death.
Prior to its death, the baby walrus had been given 24-hour care which included constant cuddling to help it keep calm and get healthy.
“We are heartbroken to share that the walrus calf admitted to the ASLC Wildlife Response Program on August 1, 2023, passed away this morning,” the centre said in a statement.
Walrus calves depend on their mothers for the first two years of their lives. But when the rescued calf was found, it was on its own, the centre said.
Officials also noted that the walrus was discovered at an unusual location because Pacific walruses are typically found in the ocean or along the western coastline of Alaska.
But according to the US Marine Mammal Commission, walruses tend to migrate into the Beaufort Sea during years with low amount of sea ice, on which the animals rely to rest between hunting for their meals.
Some of these migrations can stretch to 160km, which calves may not survive.