The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium had big news on Friday — 3,650 pounds big. That’s the weight of Dozer, the walrus on loan to the zoo from SeaWorld San Antonio.
Dozer is a male Pacific Walrus who is on a breeding loan through the Species Survival Plan. He had his first swim in the Rocky Shores area on Friday, gathering a crowd of children eager to see a walrus with 17-inch tusks.
Currently, the zoo has two female walruses, Joan and Basilla, and the zoo is hoping Dozer will mate with them. Dozer is the first male walrus at the zoo since fan-favorite E.T. died last year.
On Friday, as he swam, Dozer was making a whistling sound. That’s a breeding call.
Male walruses enter the breeding season in late-December, but for females it’s a little less scheduled — they come into estrus annually in periods of one to several days, said senior staff biologist Lisa Triggs, who works with Dozer.
The zoo having three walruses is special — there are only 14 walruses in accredited zoos in the United States, said Triggs. The decision to move Dozer to Tacoma to potentially breed was pitched by the Walrus Conservation Consortium, a group of seven AZA-accredited facilities.
“To have three (walruses) here is huge,” said Triggs.
Dozer is 23, about mid-life for a walrus. On record, the oldest walrus was 40, said Triggs. The zoo’s other walruses, Joan and Basilla, are 21 and 33, respectively.
As of now, Dozer hasn’t met the ladies, but they have certainly heard him as he makes his breeding call.
In other walrus news, a fundraiser is underway to create a bronze statue of E.T., the zoo’s beloved walrus that lived to be 33.
“The community was really attached to E.T.,” said Triggs. “He’s such a big part of the history of this zoo.”
Learn more about the fundraiser online.