Published Nov. 15, 2019
Visitors will delight in watching the two new energetic additions to the Oceans area, a pair of Pacific walrus named Aku and Ginger. Both enjoy playing together, making a lot of loud barks, and can be seen from two large viewing areas.
Aku is a 2-year-old male rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center in June 2017. Female Ginger is also 2 years old and was born at SeaWorld Orlando. That’s where the two have been together for most of their lives.
Aku was rescued in Nome, Alaska, after being separated from his mom. He was found by gold miners on the deck of a barge. The name Aku means “stern of boat” in the Inupiaq language (Native Alaskan). He currently weighs 841 pounds and is light brown in coloration with long vibrissae (whiskers). Aku lost his right eye after an injury that occurred shortly after he was rescued. Ginger was born June 3, 2017, weighs 711 pounds with reddish coloration, short vibrissae, and is very fond of Aku as the two are almost always together.
As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan recommendations through its cooperative breeding program, walruses Aurora and Pakak, who previously lived at the Zoo, were moved this week. Female Aurora went to SeaWorld Orlando to breed. Male Pakak is too young to breed and moved to Point Defiance Zoo in Washington to be reunited with another young male walrus. Pakak and the other walrus were both stranded and rescued around the same time in Alaska in July 2012 and spent time together when they were very young.
Currently there are 14 walruses in human care in the United States in only four zoos and aquariums. Walrus are vulnerable to extinction. Climate change and melting sea ice is the biggest threat to the species as it leaves them with less habitat. The average size of an adult male walrus is 3,300 pounds. Walrus have a thick layer of blubber that allows them to thrive in frigid waters. Both male and female walruses have tusks, which can grow up to 3 feet long. These tusks allow walrus to haul their heavy bodies out of the water onto the sea ice.
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