New York Aquarium

Orphaned Walrus Calves are Home at Last

Mitik 1 Sybille Castro

The dramatic journey of two male Pacific Walrus calves, found stranded this summer near Barrow, Alaska, made a huge leap forward this week when they arrived at their new permanent homes – the  Indianapolis Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium. 

The touching stories of Mitik and Pakak, each just a few months old, began when they were found alone and suffering from dehydration on separate occasions in late July.  The tale of their rescue and rehabilitation at the Alaska SeaLife Center was first chronicled by ZooBorns on July 27 and their progress updated on August 10.  Readers around the world were captivated by the way the calves immediately bonded with their caregivers through touching and snuggling. 

580834_10151067718811471_595785728_nAlaska Sea Life Center

MitikPakak (2) Shauna Gallagher

Pakak indy


Walrus are very tactile and social animals, and the dedicated staff and caretakers at the SeaLife Center provided the social interaction that the calves needed. Walrus calves almost immediately adjust to human care, so they are not candidates for release back into the wild. 

Because the SeaLife Center is it not large enough to permanently house all the wildlife it rescues, Pakak moved last week to the Indianapolis Zoo and Mitik traveled to the New York Aquarium.  The staffs at each institution are understandably thrilled with their new arrivals, but fans will have to wait awhile to see the new calves:  both will undergo a routine quarantine period, with numerous health checks, before being introduced to the adult Walruses living at each zoo.  It may be several months before the calves are seen by the public.

The 24-hour care the calves received at the Alaska SeaLife Center continues in their new homes, fulfilling their nutritional and social needs until they are introduced to their new companions.  In Indianapolis, Patak will join longtime zoo resident Aurora; Mitik will share the New York Aquarium’s exhibit with Kulu, age 17, and Nuka, age 30.

Both calves were in poor health at the timke of their rescue, but have steadily improved during their rehabilitation period.  The calves currently weigh about 240 pounds, and as adults they could weigh more than 1,500 pounds. 

Walruses face environmental threats in their Arctic habitat. Because of the lack of suitable ice, more and more Walruses are congregating on land. Overcrowding in these areas may play a role in spreading disease among populations.

Photo Credits (top to bottom):  Sybille Castro; Alaska SeaLife Center; Shauna Gallagher, Indianapolis Zoo; Indianapolis Zoo

B Is For Brooklyn!


This Saturday, September 22, ZooBorns co-founder and co-author of ABC ZooBorns!Chris Eastland, will be at two special NYC Bookend Events as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival. The two events will offer guests and their children lively readings and book signings of ABC ZooBorns! You're invited to come join the fun at both! Also giving readings and signing books at both events will be Artie Bennett, author of Poopendous! and The Butt Book. The first event is at Coney Island's New York Aquarium, and will be followed by a second at Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo. Come on out and meet the authors, and enjoy a day at the zoo, the aquarium, or both! Details below...


A-Z Authors and Animals at the Aquarium

Enjoy a morning at the New York Aquarium! Come listen to lively author readings by Artie Bennett (Poopendous! and The Butt Book) and Chris Eastland (ABC Zooborns!), followed by book signings.

Location: New York Aquarium, Surf Avenue & West 8th Street

Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Price: $14.95/Adult, $10.95/Child (Ages 3-12), $11.95/Senior



A-Z Authors and Animals at the Zoo

Enjoy an afternoon at the Prospect Park Zoo! Come listen to lively author readings by Artie Bennett (Poopendous! and The Butt Book) and Chris Eastland (ABC Zooborns!), followed by book signings.

Location: Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Avenue (Prospect Park)

Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Price: $8/adults, $5/children, $6/seniors



We hope to see you there!

Eat, Play, Sleep - a Day in the Life of Tazo

Time to check back in on the New York Aquarium's noisy little orphan Sea Otter, Tazo! For those of you who are just jumping in to the Tazo saga, this little otter was rescued and rehabilitated by the Alaska SeaLife Center. In September, Tazo made a big move from Alaska to the New York Aquarium. Unlike many out-of-state transplants, Tazo seems to be adjusting to big city life just fine as evidenced in the video belows.

Tazo the orphan otter bottle feeds at new york aquarium

Tazo Loves Chewing on His Toys

The WCS's New York Aquarium has just released a new video of everybody's favorite feisty pup - Tazo the orphan Sea Otter! Rescued and rehabilitated by the Alaska SeaLife Center back in August, Tazo continues to exhibit the talkative, troublemaking spirit evident in previous videos. While the pup is not yet on exhibit, he will most likely make a public debut later this year.

Baby sea otter tazo ny aquarium 2

Baby sea otter tazo ny aquarium 2Second photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS NY Aquarium

New York Zoos Need Your Help

As a child growing up in Connecticut, it was not unusual for me to visit the Bronx Zoo ten times in one year. It was my Disney World and science classroom rolled into one and it inspired a lifelong love of zoology that led directly (eventually) to ZooBorns. Therefore it was with extreme concern that I learned of Governor Paterson's proposal to cut funding for New York zoos, aquariums and botanic gardens from $9 million to $4 million in 2009 and cut funding entirely by 2010.  

The Governor's plan is to focus funding on "capital initiatives that provide ongoing environmental benefits" rather than "annual operating support" to organizations. I believe the rationale behind this approach to be deeply flawed. Zoos and aquariums communicate the importance of conservation in a tangible way that environmental engineering projects simply cannot. What is more, they reach a far larger and more diverse audience, including millions of children, sowing the seeds of concern for the living world around us. Essentially what these institutions provide is education in its most captivating and inspiring form. This leads to careers in science and financial and political support for conservation initiatives, so I can think of no more worthwhile investment for "ongoing environmental benefits" than the education provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society - the umbrella organization for the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium.

The Governor's office can be emailed here:

And now without further ado, we bring you a poster child for this cause, Katie the sea lion pup, born this summer at the Bronx Zoo. The pictures are just a couple of days old and come to us from ZooBorns reader Amber A.

Sea lion pup bronx zoo

Nap time

Sea lion pup bronx zoo sleeping
Katie sounds out in this video from August of last year.