Vanessa Thompson, Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Logan Thompson traveled across the country from his remote Alaska community with a top priority — to meet an orphaned northern fur seal pup he named last year in a school contest before it found a home in Boston.
The 12-year-old boy from tiny Sand Point near Alaska's Aleutian Islands initiated the appointment with 11-month old Chiidax (CHEE'-dacks) this week at the New England Aquarium soon after he arrived to visit East Coast relatives.
"I wanted to see if he was healthy and had a good home," Logan told The Associated Press on Friday in a phone interview.
He and other relatives, including his 15-year-old sister, Madison, and his aunt Vanessa Thompson, got a behind-the-scenes look Thursday at Chiidax, an Aleut word for "small, young animal."
Chiidax will eventually outgrow that name. He weighs all of 40 pounds now, but males can grow to 500 pounds, aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said. Females are in the 80- to-120-pound range.
The pup may be small, but his attitude is mighty, a domineering toddler who is too disruptive to participate in public presentations. In the back training area, the pup got within inches of Logan, with a clear barrier safely between them. Logan said he liked the pup's big ears and the interest he showed in him.
Logan and his sister interacted with adult fur seals during a public presentation. He got a kiss from 15-year-old Ursula and fed her squid.
"It was pretty cool," he said.
Chiidax was allowed to mingle with the older seals, said Vanessa Thompson of Windham, New Hampshire. At one point it looked like Chiidax was arguing with one of the seals, with a lot of barking back and forth.
"No wilting flower at all," she said.
It was the first time Logan and his sister have been without their parents thousands of miles from home, a community of about 1,000 with strong Aleut and Scandinavian roots. It was in Sand Point that someone left the newborn pup in a box on the steps of an Alaska Department of Fish and Game office.
From there, the 9-pound pup was transported to the state's only aquarium, the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.
More than 500 miles away, Sand Point students got to virtually meet the pup through a live video link to the SeaLife Center that coincided with the naming contest. In December, Chiidax arrived in Boston.
LaCasse said Logan contacted the aquarium in May. The boy said in an email that he had named the seal. He said he would be visiting relatives and was wondering if he could see his seal.
The aquarium was thrilled to have him visit, LaCasse said.
"The thing that I just looked at that was so remarkable was that you had this seal pup and this boy who sort of didn't meet, but they crossed paths in one of the more isolated spots on the planet," he said. And then, months later, he said, "they're meeting in one of America's biggest cities."
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