E.T. the walrus was an icon at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington. Ever since his arrival there as a young pup back in the early 1980s, he delighted crowds by pressing his face against the glass and perform a variety of tricks on command like raising his flipper to greet visitors or answering yes/no questions. E.T.’s greatest claim to fame, however, was the incredible range of vocalizations he could produce on command, from growling and grunting to whistling and even making a resonant bell-like sound.
In the wild, walruses use these kinds of vocalizations for communicating all sorts of things from courtship to conflict but E.T. did it purely for fun. He was an orphan who was rescued by a crew of oil surveyors who noticed him laying alone out on the tundra. He reminded them of the titular alien character from Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” and that name stuck with him ever since. Sadly, E.T. passed away last month at the ripe old age of 33.
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