NFL hopefuls aren’t the only players in town ready to showcase their training and prove they’re ready for the big time. Shedd’s rescued Southern sea otter pup Ellie has been hard at work as she continues to learn new behaviors from trainers, picking up natural feeding habits and getting used to a bigger playing field at Shedd.
Now weighing in at a healthy 20-pounds, Ellie eats about a quarter of her body weight in seafood per day, helping to fuel her playful personality and increased training regimen. Ellie, now 19 weeks old, is learning to recognize her “shape” – a red circular piece of plastic used to indicate a training session has begun – as well as follow a buoy target and even “fist bump” a trainer’s hand, a behavior called targeting.
Ellie is also slowly being introduced into Shedd’s main sea otter habitat in the Abbott Oceanarium, even spending the night there as she acclimates to the new environment, where she will eventually join her otter “teammates” on exhibit. Though she has yet to interact with Shedd’s four other sea otters – which will come once she’s a bit larger – Shedd’s marine mammal’s staff says the outgoing pup has been seen vocalizing back-and-forth with them as she spends her time behind-the-scenes at Shedd receiving excellent care.