Quebec walrus pups drawing international attention from scientists
Published Saturday, May 28, 2016 10:17PM EDT
Marine researchers around the world are paying close attention to the development of two newborn walruses at the Quebec City aquarium.
The pups are only the seventh and eighth walruses born in captivity in North America in the last 85 years.
“We got news from Australia, from Germany, from everywhere,” John Mackay, CEO of Quebec’s outdoor network, told CTV News. “All the scientists, veterinarians and wildlife scientists are very interested by that.”
The baby walruses were born earlier this month to mothers Arnaliaq and Samka.
Aquarium staff say Arnaliaq’s pup, born on May 7, is already learning from her mother.
“We’re really counting on (Arnaliaq) to keep those maternal instincts and teach that baby to swim,” said aquarium conservation director Jill Marvin. “That baby’s got to learn to dive and that baby’s got to learn to get out of here.”
The next step, Marvin said, will be to teach the pup how to socialize with other walruses at the aquarium.
Samka and her baby are still in the facility’s walrus maternity ward.
Male walrus Boris fathered both pups. Boris was brought into the aquarium in hopes that he would impregnate one of the females. He made headlines in April when the two pregnancies were announced simultaneously-- an exceedingly rare occurrence for the species.
The aquarium is proud of the deliveries and said it will study vocalization and feeding tendencies as the pups develop.
But Marvin also hopes the births will raise awareness about how climate change is negatively impacting walrus populations in the wild.
The newborns don’t have names yet. The aquarium is taking suggestions from the public on its Facebook page.