Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is mourning the loss of a stillborn walrus calf.
Doctors at the theme park and animal sanctuary had been hopeful that a 16-year-old female walrus named Uquq would be just the 12th mother to give birth to a live Pacific walrus at a zoo.
But early Monday morning Uquq gave birth to a stillborn baby.
“Over the past 30 days, we stepped up our observation and monitoring via ultrasound, and all signs showed a live birth was imminent,” Michael Muraco, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's animal care director, said in a statement. “The staff is extremely upset but attending to the welfare of Uquq at this time.
The baby would have been the first Pacific walrus calf ever born at the park. But the odds were against it.
"We have always known that the survival rate of walruses in zoos and aquariums was only 50 percent and actually less in the wild - but despite the odds, we felt that all of the dynamics were in place – a healthy female that was conditioned and trained to allow us to keep track of her progress on a daily basis from the very start of her pregnancy - and an experienced animal and veterinary staff that knew their animals well," Muraco said. "The odds this time were just not in our favor.”
A park representative said that there have been no more than 11 recorded walrus calves born over the past 80 years and only 17 individuals in U.S. facilities today.