NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A beloved orphaned walrus calf has been moved to Texas while the New York Aquarium undergoes a 2-year renovation.

Mitik came to the aquarium from Alaska in 2012, weeks before Hurricane Sandy hit and damaged much of the Coney Island facility. He was suffering from a bladder infection, dehydration and a high white blood cell count.

Mitik was discovered by Alaskan fishermen in July 2012 with another unrelated orphaned calf several miles off the coast near Barrow, Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended sending Mitik to the New York Aquarium, and the other orphaned walrus calf – Panak – to the Indianapolis Zoo, the aquarium said.

Back when Mitik first began receiving care from staff at the Alaska SeaLife Center, caregivers were worried that the animal might not survive, but under constant care from New York Aquarium staff, the walrus responded to medications and gained up to half a pound per day, the aquarium said.

The New York Times reports the Wildlife Conservation Society felt Mitik would fare better at SeaWorld San Antonio while the repairs were done.

His move will allow the aquarium to work on the life support system in Sea Cliffs, the marine mammal exhibit.

Five of the aquarium’s buildings suffered major damage during Sandy. It closed for seven months. When it reopened last May, only half of the exhibits were open as repairs continued.

The aquarium assured visitors that Mitik would return.

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