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Rare walrus calf under 24/7 cuddle care in Alaska has died

Posted at 4:26 PM, Aug 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-13 16:26:38-04

(CNN) — A rare walrus calfthat was under 24/7 cuddle care after being found wandering alone in northern Alaska has died, according to the Alaska SeaLife Center.

“We are heartbroken to share that the walrus calf admitted to the ASLC Wildlife Response Program on August 1, 2023, passed away this morning after his condition took a turn for the worse,” the center said in a news release Friday.

“Though our animal care teams worked tirelessly to provide round-the-clock critical care treatments, never leaving his side, the calf ultimately succumbed to his condition,” the center said. “A necropsy will be conducted in the days following to further understand the cause of death.”

The Pacific walrus calf, estimated to be about a month old, arrived at the Alaska SeaLife Center on August 1 after being spotted on Alaska’s North Slope, about four miles inland from the Beaufort Sea, the center previously said. Officials said the area where the nearly 140-pound calf was found was unusual, as Pacific walruses are typically found in the ocean or along the western coastline.

Walrus calves depend on their mothers for the first two years of life, and no adult walruses were in sight when this one was found, according to the center.

The veterinary team was concerned about malnutrition, dehydration and a cloudy eye, the center said. Blood work confirmed he was dehydrated and may have been fighting an infection.

The veterinarian’s orders called for 24-hour care, which included constant cuddling to help keep the calf calm and in hopes he developed healthily, the center said.

“While often rewarding, wildlife rescue is inherently unpredictable and comes with it the possibility of great loss. For those that dedicate their lives to animal care, this is the hardest part of the job,” the center said in its Friday release.