QUÉBEC, March 9, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Big news for the Aquarium du Québec: its two female walruses are pregnant! Arnaliaq and Samka should give birth respectively by the end of April and at the beginning of June.
The birth of walruses in zoological environment is very rare. It must be said that there are only about 30 walruses in institutions at the present time. Since 1930, only 19 female walruses have gestated in North America. Only six babies have been born. So the news, while certainly very exciting, also involves significant uncertainty.
In this context in which the chances for babies to survive barely exceeds one in three, the Aquarium's team is at the ready to do everything possible to ensure that the gestation of the two females is successfully completed. Vigils have been organized and a response protocol, established. In addition, the team is advised by an animal reproduction specialist from the veterinary faculty and from six of the world's zoological institutions with which the Aquarium du Québec is in constant touch. It also uses the invaluable data collected by scientists who study walruses in their natural environment. And to prepare for any eventuality, a veterinary team comprised of anesthesiologists and large animal surgeons has been assembled to intervene if necessary.
Aware of the immense potential of such an event in terms of knowledge acquisition and the interest it can generate, both in the scientific community and among the public as a whole, the Aquarium du Québec will share this great adventure, even though the outcome is uncertain to say the least. So the Aquarium's Facebook page will keep users informed as of today. Health bulletins will be released regularly on the Facebook page, and the Aquarium will also post videos and news capsules of interest.
Since the fall, Arnaliaq has showed significant weight gain and an increased appetite. These signs can be normal for the season, but other clues tipped off the team's biologists and technicians, who have been documenting the animals' behaviour and collecting data for a number of years. A routine ultrasound, during which Arnaliaq was uncooperative, did not yield a conclusive result. On this same occasion, an ultrasound was performed on Samka, the more docile of the two. It was quite a surprise to discover its pregnancy! Later, the examination was repeated on Arnaliaq, finally revealing what the team had been suspecting for some time.
A bit of history
Born close to Akpatok Island, north of Ungava Bay, Arnaliaq was acquired by the Aquarium du Québec in 2003.
Boris and Samka arrived at the Aquarium ten years ago, from Russia. Both baby Pacific walruses, then six months old, were bottle fed by animal guides.
SOURCE Société des établissements de plein air du Québec
Image with caption: "Baby walrus expected at the Aquarium (CNW Group/Société des établissements de plein air du Québec)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160309_C7367_PHOTO_EN_639143.jpg
For further information: Source and for information: Élaine Ayotte, Communications Manager, Sépaq, 418-686-4875, [email protected]