Visitors to the Quebec City Aquarium got a look at Canada's first baby walrus born in captivity — one of two marking a "historical event."
The female calf was born 17 days ago, weighing 62 kilograms.
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"This represents all the efforts we are making in conservation," said Laurent Lessard, Quebec's wildlife minister.
The calf is mostly hanging around its mother, nuzzling its face. It occasionally swims on its own.
It feeds from its mother, Arnaliaq, up to eight times a day for about 20 minutes at a time. The calf now weighs 63 kilos.
A world-first: another birth
While the baby female got all the attention Thursday from aquarium visitors as it splashed around in the pool with its mother, aquarium staff kept a close eye on another baby born to another captive walrus Monday evening.
"These two births mark a historical event – I would say it's completely exceptional. It's the first time in the world that two baby walruses are born in a zoological institute, within a two-week interval no less. That will be hard to beat," said John MacKay, president of Sépaq, the Quebec agency that manages wildlife parks and nature reserves in the province.
The male, born to Samka, weighed 66 kilos at birth.
"Our walruses are the seventh and eighth to ever be born in captivity in North America, and that's over a span of 85 years," MacKay said.
Of all the world's walruses to be born in captivity, only one lived to adulthood.
MacKay commended the efforts of the staff at the aquarium, saying they closely followed every step of the two pregnancies and shared the data with other zoological institutions around the world.
"This is a moment full of emotions and great pride at the Aquarium du Québec," said Laurent.
The Aquarium du Québec will soon launch a contest on its Facebook page to name the walrus calves.
The top 10 names submitted will be put to a vote. The winners will get prizes.