Against the Odds, an Orphaned Walrus Calf Lives to Make New Yorkers Smile

To say Mitik has had a difficult childhood would be an understatement.

The orphaned walrus calf — nicknamed Mit — was rescued by a hunting vessel in open waters off the coast of Alaska a few months back.

He was brought to Barrow along with another orphaned walrus, Pakak, and then transported via Anchorage to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, where it was determined that Mit suffered from a number of medical problems, and needed to be fed through a feeding tube.

"It was very touch-and-go for several weeks," SeaLife Center president Tara Riemer Jones told the New York Times. "They were treating him for a lot of different things."

Happily, Mit is now 15 weeks old, 234 pounds, and getting stronger and heavier every day.

Along with his new-found health, Mitik is also getting a new home: Brooklyn's New York Aquarium. The Times, which notes that the Coney Island Boardwalk-adjacent institution is "one of only several institutions in the United States that exhibit walruses," explains the significance of Mit's arrival:

One of its two walruses, Nuka, is 30, an old-timer by walrus standards.

Because walruses are such social animals, the aquarium would be hard-pressed to keep the other walrus, the 17-year-old Kulu, were Nuka to die. "Our concern is that our very elderly walrus could pass away, as these things go," Mr. Dohlin said, "and that would leave us in a pickle because we really wouldn't want to have a solitary animal."

Mit, whose "scrappiness" and temperament has labeled him "the perfect New Yorker," will spend some time in quarantine upon his introduction to the aquarium, and isn't scheduled to join the exhibit until next spring.

[photo via AP, video via Boing Boing]