Baby walrus prepares for public debut at Indianapolis Zoo

Pakak goes on exhibit in 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - A walrus calf rescued from the Alaskan coast in gaining stride and weight as he prepares to make his public debut.

The Indianapolis Zoo took the orphaned walrus, Pakak, into its full-time care earlier this year.

When Pakak arrived in Indiana in October he was under weight, had sea lice and a fungal infection.
   
The zoo placed him in quarantine to nurse him back to health, and now he's a healthy, bouncy baby boy.

At feeding time, the Indianapolis Zoo's newest baby anxiously waits for his formula of milk, fish and vitamins, but zoo staff say he's a finicky baby.

"He'll spit it up if it's not warm enough," said Mandy Goin, the senior marine mammal trainer who has been nursing Pakak back to health. "It's very rewarding and it's very nice working with an animal like that. You come in every morning excited."

Goin said the walrus calf was once scrawny and sick.

"Now he's actually looking good. He's around 350 pounds," she said. "He's swimming a lot, so he's exercising and he's getting really, really good."

But just like any child Pakak is being taught how to get along with others, especially since he's going to grow to a whopping 3,000 pounds.
  
Pakak -- which means "gets into everything" -- is already head strong.

"We're teaching him manners, just like you would your children and things like that," Goin said.

And soon the baby calf will be meeting people like 5-year-old Evelyn Lally.

"I like to watch walruses because they have whiskers," Evelyn said.

Pakak must first learn the exhibit before he makes his public debut.
 
He will join Aurora, a 1,500-pound female who already graces the exhibit.
 
Goin said if Friday's meeting between the two is any indication, the two will get along.

"They got to meet each other this morning and they were excited about that," she said.

Pakak will be on exhibit after the first of the year.

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