EXPIRED: 09/01/09 – Akituusaq, 2, was a baby walrus at the NY Aquarium, who had pneumonia. He was the 1st Pacific walrus born in the Aquarium’s 113-year history.
NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg claimed that Akituusaq “melted the hearts of millions” which wouldn’t have been hard since the Coney Island-based aquarium has that many visitors annually.
He was only the 10th walrus born in captivity in North America since 1968. Captivity births are quite rare, and Akituusaq had been doing well, healthily eating and growing to 320 lbs in just 26 months.
But it’s tough going for walruses these days.
Akituusaq’s mother, Kulusiq, and his father, Ayveq, were orphaned at the age of 3 weeks during a bloody a legal Eskimos hunt. Ayveq also died just last year.
Aquarium caretakers noticed that Akituusaq had stopped eating for nearly a week. The issue turned out to be something wrong with his lungs.
Akituusaq’s name meant “a gift given in return” in Yupik, the language indigenous to walrus habitat. In the wild he might have lived to see 50.
RIP baby walrus from Brooklyn!