Friday, June 27, 2008
By Gersh Kuntzman
The Brooklyn Paper
Ayveq, the walrus whose bizarre, though oddly compelling, masturbation rituals made him an international sensation at the New York Aquarium, has died. He was 14.
Though well-liked long before he discovered the habit that would make him a star, Ayveq’s frequent public self-gratification made him the Coney Island institution’s singular attraction.
“We are all still in shock about it,” Aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin said. “He was an absolute delight. He had a magnetism and a charm that was totally his own. He loved people and he knew how to work a crowd and entertain guests.
“And himself,” Dohlin added. “He did have a raffish charm, no doubt about it.”
THIS IS A RELATED AYVEQ EQUALLY CHARMING MATING STORY
The eyes of the world — well, at least the walrus-loving world — were on the New York Aquarium last week, where the new baby walrus made his debut.
But my eyes were on Ayveq, the Coney Island institution’s famously self-satisfying sea beast.
Readers of this column know that I have a long-established affection for Ayveq and his prodigious proclivities. So when I heard that Ayveq was the father of the new walrus calf — and that he had mated with his formerly frigid gal pal, Kulu — I rushed straight to the Aquarium for a tank-side interview.
The bad news: Ayveq is about as good a father as Bob Guccione. The good news: He’s still masturbating.
“Even as the photographers and the camera crews were shooting the new baby in the other tank, there he was, slapping away against the glass,” said Aquarium spokeswoman Fran Hackett, referring to Ayveq’s famous technique.
This was a great relief to me, given that this newspaper once called Ayveq one of the singular tourist attractions in the world (and not because of his dreamy red eyes, mind you!).
For years, I pestered Hackett to reveal to me (exclusively, of course!) the very moment when Ayveq got past that ultimate adolescent hump (no pun intended) and finally found a female worthy of his libido.
Hackett kept putting me off (she had apparently promised the exclusive to Walrus World magazine — those bastards!), so when she called me with the big birth announcement, I knew something was up (very up in Ayveq’s case): He was the father!
And not a good one. Even as Kulu nursed and bonded her new baby, Ayveq was in the tank — and bedding down — with Nuka, a 25-year-old cow with seductively wide flanks and bedroom whiskers.
Could it be that Ayveq had finally abandoned his self-love ways?
“No,” said the Aquarium’s senior keeper Jo Basinger. “He’s only 13, so he’s often too annoying to her for her to even deal with him.”
“His constant attempts to breed, you know,” Basinger said (oh, I know all about annoying females through over-aggressive courtship rituals — believe me, I know).
“When he gets that way, she just steers clear of him.”
So that’s when he takes matters into his own fins, right? Not exactly.
“Oh, he does that whenever,” Basinger said. “It has nothing to do with whether he’s mating or not.”
This was not only big news to fans of walrus wanking, but of anyone looking for solace about his own limited parenting skills.
“You have nothing to worry about,” Hackett told me, referring to how Ayveq will never even come in contact with his son (despite their vast age difference, he’d consider him competition for the females). And if they had mated in the wild, Ayveq would have abandoned Kulu months before the child was even born (where are the family values politicians in the walrus world, I ask you?).
But the spirit of Ayveq lives on in his still-unnamed newborn. An Aquarium source told me that the tot has already discovered Ayveq’s secret pleasure spot and has started to entertain himself, even though he’s just three-and-a-half-months old.
Like father, like son
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