Dozer, the humongous walrus with the 17-inch-long tusks and unmistakable whistle, is leaving Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium soon. But visitors still have opportunities to see the massive mammal and bid him adieu before his departure.
The 3,078-pound Dozer will be featured during marine mammal keeper talks at 3 p.m. this coming Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 15 and 16), his final weekend in Tacoma.
The popular walrus arrived last November through the Walrus Conservation Consortium, which is dedicated to aiding the imperiled species both in aquariums and in the Arctic.
He is a crowd favorite, and he completed his assigned task: While in Tacoma, Dozer bred with the zoo’s three females, Joan, Basilla and Kulu.
Zoo officials won’t know until sometime this fall, however, whether the pairings were successful. Once an egg is fertilized, it’s not implanted in the uterus for four to five months – a relatively unique process called delayed implantation. The gestation period is about 15 months.
“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,” said senior staff biologist Lisa Triggs, who has worked with and studied the species for a quarter century. She also earned her master’s degree with scientific research on walrus reproduction.
“There are just 14 Pacific walruses in accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States,” she said. “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 actions to lower our carbon footprints – like not idling cars.”
For more information, go to pdza.org/walrus.