We love walruses – and especially the three walrus ladies of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Joan, Basilla and Kulusiq (or Kulu, for short) each have their own unique physical and personality traits, interacting with their keepers in their own special ways.
Joan is one of our three resident walruses, and according to senior staff biologist Amanda Shaffer she’s a rockstar at training.
“She’s really amenable – she’ll do whatever behavior is asked,” says Shaffer.
Joan also likes to be the center of attention, so it’s just fine that Kulusiq and Basilla always seem to want her around.
Born in 1995, Joan is around 8 feet long and is the second-smallest of our walruses. She has no tusks.
“She’s curious about whatever we’re doing,” says Shaffer. “She just likes interaction.”
Basilla, known to staff as Basa, is one of our three resident walruses. Her name in Russian means loud or deep voice, and she’ll give a big deep sigh if a keeper asks her to do a behavior and she’s just not in the mood, says Shaffer.
Born in 1983, Basilla is around 9 feet long with no tusks. She went blind in her teens – her eyes are whitish and opaque – and she’s become very good at learning new situations using her whiskers or hearing.
Kulusiq, or Kulu for short, is one of our three resident walruses. Born in 1995, she’s our smallest walrus at around 7.5 feet. And out of all our walruses, she’s the most obstinate, says Shaffer.
“She’s like a cat,” says Shaffer. “If she doesn’t want to do something, she won’t.”
But she loves choosing what to do – her favorite behavior with keepers is a free-choice option where she gets to do any motion as long as it is different from the ones before.
“She loves that – slapping her chest, waving a flipper,” says Shaffer. “She’s so energetic!”
Kulu’s other favorite thing to do is play with the hose, when the keepers create a little waterfall in the pool – she’ll use her flippers to direct the water straight into her mouth!
-Rosemary Ponnekanti, PDZA