ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – A pair of baby walruses are becoming fast friends at SeaWorld Orlando after meeting for the very first time a week ago.
The SeaWorld Orlando Animal Care Team introduced Aku, a rescued walrus calf from Alaska, and Ginger, a walrus calf born at the park. As the team watched on, the two began inspecting one another curiously. After their first bottle-feeding together, Aku and Ginger were soon following each other around the habitat and playing.
Ginger was born at SeaWorld Orlando on June 3 to Kaboodle, a 14-year-old female walrus. She is the first walrus calf to be born at the park. Experts discovered a few weeks later that she wasn’t gaining enough weight so they have been giving her around-the-clock care, including bottle feeding, socialization and companionship.
Aku was rescued and rehabilitated by the Alaska Sea Life Center (ASLC) in June after being found abandoned on a gold mining dredge off the Alaska coast of Nome. He was only about two weeks old at the time of his rescue, which meant he could not be released back into the wild according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After his rehabilitation, he was sent to SeaWorld Orlando, in part, to be a companion for Ginger.
So far so good. The two are getting along great.
According to SeaWorld Orlando, the introduction of the two walrus calves is an important milestone as their specialized care progresses.
The goal for Aku and Ginger is to create a social bond and develop companionship between the two animals for years to come.
The park’s walrus program plays an important role in educating the public about these amazing animals. While walruses are not yet listed as a threatened species, and populations have stabilized since 19th century commercial hunting was outlawed, the species does face growing threats in the wild, including the significant loss of sea ice.
With the permission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SeaWorld Orlando has raised 10 orphaned walrus calves over the last 50 years, including Ginger’s father, Garfield. The SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has provided research assistance on the Pacific walrus and the impact of dwindling floating sea ice.