Tuesday, November 07, 2000

Zoo investigates walrus death

        The last of three walruses that Cincinnati Zoo personnel rescued from ice floes in 1996 has died, zoo officials said Monday.

        A 4-year-old female walrus named Patu was found dead Oct. 29 in a pool at the zoo's walrus exhibit, spokesman Chad Yelton said. Management waited until Monday to announce the death in hopes that veterinarians would have information about why the animal died, he said.

        But zoo veterinarians are still awaiting laboratory reports on tissue samples taken from Patu that are needed to determine a cause of death, Mr. Yelton said.

        Patu was among three walrus pups that zoo personnel rescued in 1996 off the coast of the St. Lawrence Islands. Zoo personnel collected the walruses under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit that allows capturing of orphan pups, Mr. Yelton said.

        The Pacific walrus species, including Patu, has a life expectancy of 35 to 40 years. The two other walruses collected with Patu also have died.

        Tuwak, a male, died on March 21. The cause of his death is still undetermined, Mr. Yelton said.

        Siku, a female, died Feb. 26, 1998, of a blockage in the intestine, Mr. Yelton said.

        Zoo management is considering using the marine mammal exhibit, which the walruses had used, for sea lions, otters or seals, Mr. Yelton said.


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