Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has an adorable, furry little newcomer! Shedd welcomes "a five-week-old orphaned southern sea otter pup... from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of a collaborative partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium." They write:
Weighing in at just under 6 pounds and at 22.6 inches long, the female pup arrived at Shedd last Tuesday from Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, where she spent the first four weeks of her life being stabilized. The pup has been doing well since her arrival, receiving continual care behind the scenes of Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium. She is the second pup from the threatened southern sea otter population to reside at Shedd. Currently referred to as “Pup 681,” Shedd’s animal care and veterinarian teams are providing the continual, round-the-clock care she needs to thrive.
“Pup 681’s situation was urgent. As an organization dedicated to marine mammal care and conservation, we were perfectly positioned to ensure that this little pup had a home, providing the long-term care needed to survive,” said Tim Binder, Vice President of Animal Collections for Shedd. “This rescued animal provides an opportunity for us to learn more about the biological and behavioral attributes of this threatened species and to encourage people to preserve and protect them in the wild.”
Estimated to be only one week old and weighing in at just over 2 pounds, the female pup was found on September 30 on Coastways Beach in California between the San Mateo and Santa Cruz county line. A citizen on an evening walk heard the newborn otter’s cry and quickly notified The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC). TMMC staff contacted Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program and scientists determined the pup could not be retrieved that evening due to the remote location and impending darkness. On the morning of Oct. 1, the pup was still in the same location and determined to have been orphaned. Scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Sea Otter Program responded immediately to recover the pup and transport her to Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“On arrival at Monterey Bay Aquarium, 681 weighed 1.0kg, which is tiny for a newborn sea otter, and she had been separated from mom for at least 16 hours. This meant it was critical that we begin to get calories into her as quickly as possible,” said Karl Mayer, Animal Care Coordinator for the Sea Otter Program.
Stranded sea otter pups require extensive round-the-clock care and there are only a handful of facilities in the United States with the available space, staff and experience to provide the appropriate care. Shedd officials and animal care staff quickly accepted Monterey Bay Aquarium’s call to provide the stranded pup with a permanent home.
To ensure the pup receives everything that she needs, a rotating schedule of six to eight animal care experts provides care and attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During this intensive nurturing period, she will remain behind the scenes in the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery as she develops certain behaviors, such as grooming, foraging, and feeding, as well as regulating her own body temperature by getting in and out of the water.
“It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter. Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter,” said Binder. “While the process is lengthy, our hands-on experience and long history rehabilitating sea otters allows us to use our expertise to work on saving this pup’s life by providing her with a home and the care she needs.”
As she acclimates to her new surroundings, Pup 681 reaches new milestones every day, including taking formula from a bottle, eating solid foods such as shrimp and clams and even climbing upon white towels when she gets wet to help her groom and regulate her body temperature.
We'll post more on Pup 681 in the coming days, so check back for more fuzzy cuteness! Thanks to Shedd Aquarium; photos ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez.
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