The walrus, 33, died at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium; significant health issues had plagued E.T. for about a year.

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The popular walrus known as E.T. at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium died at age 33 Thursday when he went into cardiac arrest while under anesthesia after surgery, according to the zoo.

E.T. was having surgery on a “severely infected” pharyngeal pouch. Part of the neck, the pouch helps males float and “allows them to make specific sounds during the breeding season,” says a news release.

“At age 33, he was a geriatric walrus with multiple medical issues,” said zoo head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf in the release. “He had been ill for many weeks with a serious bacterial infection. He had not eaten for 17 days, and he suffered from painful arthritis that made it difficult for him to haul out of the water.”

Significant health issues had plagued the walrus for at least a year.

Before breeding seasons, E.T. would usually weigh nearly 4,000 pounds. His range of vocalizations, from the guttural and phlegmy to a high-pitched whistle, were a famous talent.

“E.T. was an utterly amazing animal,” senior staff biologist Lisa Triggs said in the release. Triggs worked with E.T. for 19 years. “He was extremely bright … and forgiving with his keepers.”