Ayveq the walrus dies at NY Aquarium

June 23, 2008 1:27:24 PM PDT
The New York Aquarium is mourning the loss of a Pacific walrus named Ayveq. Ayveq was about 14. He died Sunday after a short illness. The aquarium is awaiting the results of a necropsy done to determine the cause of his death.

Director Jon Forrest Dohlin says aquarium workers took extraordinary steps to try to save Ayveq and are deeply saddened by the death of their "beloved walrus."

Aquarium spokeswoman Fran Hackett says Ayveq appeared to blow kisses to visitors through an underwater window.

Ayveq was one of three orphaned walruses taken to the aquarium in May 1994 from the village of Gambel on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska.

His name means walrus in the Siberian Yupik (YOO'-pik) language.

Ayveq had a calf named Akituusaq (ah-kee-TOO'-sak), who recently turned a year old.