A rare Pacific walrus pup that was rescued from a remote oil field in Alaska has died after receiving round-the-clock cuddling care from the staff of the Alaska SeaLife Center. The pup, believed to be about a month old, was suffering from malnutrition and other health complications that proved to be fatal.
A lonely walrus on the tundra
The walrus pup was found on July 31 by oil field workers who spotted him alone on the tundra, about four miles inland from the Beaufort Sea. The workers contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which authorized the Alaska SeaLife Center to rescue the pup and transport him to their facility in Seward, Alaska.
The pup was estimated to weigh about 200 pounds and had a brown, wrinkly skin. He was the first walrus patient at the center in four years. The center said it was unclear how he ended up so far from the ocean, but there was a walrus trail or track near a road where he was found.
A cuddling treatment for a social animal
Walruses are highly social animals that depend on their mothers for constant care and touch during their first two years of life. The center said that the pup needed “round-the-clock cuddling” to keep him calm and help his development. The staff gave him the option to have a warm body to lean up against, which he took advantage of almost constantly.
The pup also received formula feedings, antibiotics, fluids and vitamins to address his malnutrition and possible infection. He showed signs of improvement during his stay at the center, such as taking a bottle and eating well.
A tragic loss for the wildlife rescue
Despite the best efforts of the animal care teams, the pup died on August 11 after developing hypoglycemia and gastrointestinal problems. The center said that he “ultimately succumbed to his condition” and that a necropsy would be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
The center expressed its heartbreak over the loss of the pup and thanked the public for their support and donations. The center also said that wildlife rescue is unpredictable and comes with 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 a statement.