Just as baby walrus Balzak makes his debut at the Vancouver Aquarium, staff at the Quebec City Aquarium are mourning the death of his mother, Samka.
Samka was one of two female walruses to give birth to Balzak and his half-sister, Lakine, last year – becoming the first walruses to be born in Canadian captivity and survive.
In a statement Friday, aquarium director Elizabeth Tessier said Samka was part of the Quebec aquarium for 13 years.
“She was a very playful animal to which all of our staff had attached as much as our visitors,” she said in a statement.
The cause of Samka’s death has yet to be determined, but the aquarium said she had been showing concerning signs for a few days, including a lack of appetite.
An autopsy is being performed at a Ministry of Agriculture laboratory.
Samka and fellow female walrus Arnaliaq, along with male walrus Boris, drew national attention last year when the Vancouver Aquarium announced it had acquired Balzak and Lakine.
The two baby walruses, now nearly two years old, made their debut at the B.C. aquarium Wednesday.