Mitik is a 15-week orphaned baby walrus that was found abandoned in open ocean this past July. Since then, he has been in holding (alongside another baby walrus named Pakak) at the Alaska SeaLife Center as he recovers from a slew of medical issues, including bladder problems and the inability to bottle feed — which, in turn, forced his veterinarians to give him a catheter and feeding tube. Fortunately, Mitik (known to his closest friends as Mit) has bounced back almost completely and is gaining an estimated pound a day. Tara Riemer Jones, president of the SeaLife Center, tells the New York Times, "It was very touch-and-go for several weeks. They were treating him for a lot of different things."
So what's next for young Mit now that he's healthy? Like many youths who grew up weak and nerdy but now have a mustache and are looking to find themselves a community that really gets them, the 234-pound baby walrus is packing up and heading to Brooklyn.
Mitik will soon arrive at Brooklyn's New York Aquarium where he will be introduced to his two new walrus roommates Kulu (17) and Nuka (30). His introduction is strategic. Walruses are very social animals and, with Nuka getting a little long in the tusk, aquarium officials want to insure that Kulu will have company once her elder passes away.
As for Mit's actual transport, he will be moved in the company of a vet and handler via a jumbo-size crate aboard a FedEx cargo jet. But only if he's cool with that. Director of the New York Aquarium Jon Forrest Dohlin had this adorable thing to add: "If he's calm and comfortable, no worries. But his needs and comfort come first. So he may very well travel with his head in our keeper's lap."
Those closest to him are predicting that Mit will do well in the Big Apple. According to the SeaLife Center's Martha Hiatt, "We say he is small, but scrappy — the perfect New Yorker."
Pakak, the Artful Dodger to Mitik's Oliver, has found a home at the Indianapolis Zoo in Indiana and will arrive there Thursday.
A Fat, Mustachioed Orphan Finds a Home [New York Times]