Baby walrus calf Mitik was discovered, orphaned and ailing, off the coast of Alaska in July. Now he’s all grown up — he’s still a baby, but he weighs 234 pounds, which is pretty grown indeed — and he’s traveling all the way from Alaska to New York City, possibly with his head in his keeper’s lap the whole way.
Mitik won’t be on display in his new home at the New York Aquarium until spring, so until then, you’ll need to watch videos of him on YouTube. Back before Mitik had a name, we posted this one of him snuggling with an Alaska Sea Life Center worker:
Here’s another where he plays with his buddy Pakak and barks a lot:
The New York Aquarium already has two walruses, Kula and Nuka, but they’re such social creatures that it’s important they never be left alone. Since Nuka is getting up there in years, the aquarium is bringing in Mitik as a backup so Kula won’t be lonely if she dies. But it’s not just for Kula’s sake — they’re also taking Mitik because he’s an orphan who needs a home, and because he’s a super-cute chubby-wubby baby-woobly walrus-face.
Martha Hiatt, the New York Aquarium’s animal husbandry supervisor, thinks the new baby will fit right in — even though, inconveniently for such a Democratic city, his nickname is “Mit.”
“If Mit is resting with his head on my lap, sucking my fingers, looking sweetly into my eyes, and Pak comes anywhere near us, he pops up, yells at Pak and tries to head-butt him,” she said. “Then he’ll turn to me and be all cuddly again. We say he is small, but scrappy — the perfect New Yorker.”
I’m calling it: Walruses are the new “it” animal. They’re a towering masterpiece of ugly-cute — they like to snuggle and head-butt and play with a ball, and they’re covered in puppy fat, but they also look like Wilford Brimley! Plus, they have mustaches, which hipsters are still inexplicably into. Someone start an Etsy shop putting walruses on things. It’s gonna be huge.
A Fat, Mustachioed Orphan Finds a Home, New York Times.