A rare walrus calf found wandering alone in Alaska last week is now under 24-hour cuddle care.
The Alaska SeaLife Center said it took in the Pacific walrus calf — a male estimated to be about 1 month old — on Aug 1.
The baby was spotted by workers on Alaska's North Slope, a few miles inland from the Beaufort Sea. The center said this is "highly unusual," as walruses reside almost exclusively in the ocean or near the western coastline.
"This is the center's first walrus patient in four years, and one of only 10 admitted in the center's 25-year history, making this an exceptional case for the Wildlife Response Program and a rare opportunity for all involved," Alaska SeaLife Center said in a statement.
Because walrus calves rely on their mother's intense care for the first two years of life, the little guy would not have survived without intervention. Adult walruses were nowhere in sight.
Care for the walrus calf would be more demanding than most. The ASLC implemented a regimen to mimic the near-constant attention that would be provided by the calf's mother.
"To emulate this maternal closeness, round-the-clock 'cuddling' is being provided to ensure the calf remains calm and develops in a healthy manner. Calves tend to habituate quickly to human care, and staff report that he is already eating formula from a bottle," the ASLC said.
In an update on Facebook, the ASLC said the walrus calf weighs 140 pounds. He is eating well and remains alert.
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