Meet Gracie, the 19-year-old sea otter at Georgia Aquarium! Gracie was rescued in California at only two weeks old and rehabbed and released before needing to be rescued again. She eventually found her forever home in Atlanta where she lived with her sea otter friends in the Georgia Aquarium exhibit. Now at her age, however, she needed to make a lifestyle change. AJC writes:
But about six months ago, Gina Fisher, associate curator of mammals and birds at the Georgia Aquarium and one of Gracie’s handful of dedicated trainers, noticed that Gracie was showing more pronounced signs of aging... Gracie’s slowed mobility, her lessened interest in grooming (sea otter fur should look fluffy and Gracie’s was appearing more wetted) and heightened interest in napping (more than the usual half day) caught Fisher’s attention.
Additionally, Gracie was starting to get a bit, well, “get off my lawn, you whippersnappers,” with her four younger sea otter mates in the exhibit.
For the past several months, Gracie has lived in a spacious area away from the eyes of tourists (including behind-the-scenes tours) and close to the off-exhibit residence of the sea lions.
Since being on her own, Fisher said, “her mobility has increased, she rests when she wants to rest, she’s improved her grooming.”
And she eats, well-maintaining her 45 pounds — average for a female sea otter — and choosing what she wants to eat (the clams, mussels and crab are her favorites).
“If she doesn’t want something, she’ll hand it back or lay it on the deck,” Fisher said with a smile.
In her new digs, Gracie receives more check-ins than a kid at nursery school. On a recent afternoon, she popped her head up instantly from her sleeping area on the deck at the sound and sight of Fisher, slithering with a tiny hitch into her pool, where several enrichment items such as balls and tubes floated, to await a feeding.
As Fisher rubbed Gracie’s stomach and gently tossed bits of clam and shrimp onto her chest, the sea otter spun constantly in between bites, then eagerly grabbed a plastic ball into which Fisher had placed some shrimp. This was not a chosen day for the arthropods, though, as Gracie tossed the ball away like a petulant toddler.