Dozer the walrus is leaving the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium after mating with the zoo’s three resident walruses.
The 3,100-pound marine mammal’s 7-month stay comes thanks to a loan from Sea World San Antonio, the zoo said in a press release. He is expected to leave the zoo by the end of June to continue his breeding tour at another facility. His visit was arranged by the Walrus Conservation Consortium.
Dozer, who has 17-inch tusks, bulked up to 3,700 pounds at one point during his stay.
He was brought in to breed with the zoo’s three females, Joan, Basilla and Kulu. Point Defiance officials won’t know until fall if the pairings resulted in pregnancies, according to the zoo’s statement. The gestation period for walruses is 15 months and because of their delayed implantation, a fertilized egg needs 4-5 months to be implanted in the uterus.
“We brought Dozer to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in the hope that he and at least one of our female walruses might successfully produce a calf,” staff biologist Lisa Triggs said.
Triggs said, “There are just 15 Pacific walruses in accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States. We are hopeful that we can increase that number. These animals are amazing ambassadors that help our visitors learn about the effects of climate change on marine mammals. They inspire us all to take action to reduce our carbon footprints.”
Dozer’s whistle became a familiar sound at the zoo during his stay.
“Visitors to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium have been fortunate to see this magnificent male walrus during the breeding season,” said Karen Goodrowe Beck, the zoo’s general curator. “We know our visitors will miss him; we hope he has motivated them to learn more about Pacific walruses and how to help them in the wild.”
Dozer is scheduled to be featured during special marine mammal keeper talks at 3 p.m. on June 17, 18, 24 and 25.
The zoo has an established reputation for walrus research and conservation.
The Zoo Society’s Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund supports a walrus research program in Alaska. And in recent years zoo staff have helped walrus researchers investigate how walruses make a variety of sounds, assess variations in food consumption and body conditions, identify a reliable blubber measurement and study diving physiology and capacity.
“Each of these studies helps marine mammal experts and other researchers better understand these magnificent mammals,” Triggs said. “The more we learn about them, the more we can help wild walruses as they adapt to changing climates and altered landscapes.”