This is Shedd Aquarium’s newest addition, Pup 719. Orphaned in an El Nino storms early this year, the otter pup was rescued by Monterey Bay Aquarium before finding a forever home at Shedd. She gets round-the-clock care from her new surrogate family, who teach her the sea otter skills she didn’t have a chance to learn from her mother. She’s learned to groom herself, eat solid food and climb in and out of her pool already.
It’s a rare happy ending, as Tim Binder, Shedd’s executive vice president of animal care, explains at the aquarium’s site:
“There are limited options for stranded sea otter pups. In extraordinarily rare cases, they can be reunited with their mothers in the wild. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s pioneering Sea Otter Program enlists adult female exhibit otters as surrogate mothers to raise the pups for release back into the wild. When surrogate moms aren’t available, every effort is made to place pups in one of a handful of accredited U.S. aquariums and zoos with the facilities and staff expertise to care for these high-maintenance pups.” He added that when none of those options are available, the pups have to be humanely euthanized. “But Shedd was eager and ready to welcome Pup 719.”
If you want to know more, Shedd Aquarium has more information on Pup 719, along with suggestions for how to help other orphaned sea otter pups.