VALLEJO (KRON) — Siku, a beloved, movie star walrus at Vallejo’s Six Flags Discovery Kindom, passed away on Wednesday.
Siku was a 23-year-old female Pacific walrus. She starred in the 2004 movie “50 First Dates.”
Siku suffered from kidney disease and her health had declined over the past three weeks, according to a statement from Six Flags.
The exact cause of death is pending further testing. The life expectancy of the Pacific walrus is 16 to 30 years.
“We are truly devastated and heartbroken. Siku was loved by so many,” said Six Flags President Don McCoy.
Siku’s story from Six Flags:
In 1994, Siku was one of four orphaned walrus calves recovered from a federally authorized Native Alaskan subsistence program near Gambell, Alaska. They transferred to the park on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, responsible for finding them a permanent home under human care. At the time, the park was one of only a few zoological institutions in the country authorized to take in and care for beached and stranded Pacific walrus calves.
The calves, consisting of a male and three females, were just a few months old when they arrived at the park and were bottle-fed until being introduced to the public at the Walrus Experience in 1995.
Siku, whose name means “ice” in the Yupik language, was distinct from her companions as she did not have tusks, which had to be removed early in her life due to an infection. She had an impressive repertoire of hundreds of learned and natural behaviors, demonstrating an amazing ability to study and teach others, giving scientists considerable insight into the intelligence of walruses, one of the least-known and least-studied marine mammals in the world.
Siku, along with her companions, starred in the 2004 feature film, “50 First Dates” alongside Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Audio experts just recently recorded her unique and uncanny vocalizations for use in movies and television. In 2014, Siku even became a viral sensation, after demonstrating push-ups with football coach Jim Harbaugh when he visited with his family.
“We are shattered by the loss of Siku,” said Dianne Cameron, director of animal care. “She was part of our family, she was our friend, and she was our teacher. We are grateful for every moment that we shared with her.”
As part of Siku’s legacy, she will continue to contribute to science. Her skeleton will be donated to the California Academy of Sciences to be used for education and valuable tissue samples will be available for study by researchers for years to come. The loss leaves the park with one female walrus, Uquq, after Sivuqaq’s death two years ago of heart failure.
Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) are one of two recognized subspecies of walruses (Atlantic and Pacific), only the Pacific walrus can be found in U.S. waters, inhabiting the Bering, Chukchi and Laptev seas.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:
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