Every day, our Animal Care and Animal Health teams provide world-class care to thousands of animals at the New England Aquarium. Their jobs are rewarding, challenging, and sometimes emotionally difficult. The past few days have been all of those things for the New England Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Department.
This week, we said goodbye to our male northern fur seal Chiidax, who is transferring to the Seattle Aquarium to reunite with an old companion. This move has been long in the works and is enthusiastically supported by our team, although we will miss him.
Chiidax was stranded as a pup off the coast of Alaska. Due to his young age, he was not able to be released and, in 2013, he came to the New England Aquarium to reside in the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center. During his early years, he lived with a small group of fur seals, including a pup named Flaherty. Flaherty and Chiidax spent some of their time together playing, jousting (akin to puppies wrestling), and learning from each other. In 2015, Flaherty moved to the Seattle Aquarium. Today, Chiidax is flying across the country, accompanied by his trainer and a veterinarian, to reunite with Flaherty.
As we celebrate this new chapter for Chiidax, we are also mourning the loss of our female fur seal Kitovi, who passed away last week from a liver disorder that also affected her mother and grandmother.
Born at the New England Aquarium in 2013, Kitovi was diagnosed with hemochromatosis, a disease that results in a buildup of iron in the liver. Kitovi passed away from her illness, despite a valiant effort by our veterinary team to provide life sustaining treatments. Kitovi touched the lives of thousands of visitors both in person and virtually, and was a model steward for her wild counterparts.
While we will miss both Chiidax and Kitovi, we are grateful to have known them and for the impact they have had on Aquarium members and guests who had the good fortune to interact with them. They have provided us with both the opportunity to educate visitors about northern fur seals and to share how each of us can improve the fate of this species and all marine life. We look forward to Chiidax rekindling his friendship with Flaherty and have no doubt that he will continue to have a lasting impact on those who visit the Seattle Aquarium every day.