On January 6, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation team rescued an orphaned sea otter pup. At just four weeks old, the pup washed ashore on Carmel Beach during a severe storm.
An extensive search for the pup’s mother took place, with hopes to reunite the two. When the mother could not be found, the team brought the pup back to the aquarium for around-the-clock care by Monterey Bay’s dedicated animal care staff and volunteers.
The pup was given the number 719, which is how many animals have been taken into the aquarium for care since 1984. The aquarium has had a highly successful rehabilitation and release program for stranded sea otter pups through the use of surrogate mothers. However, at the time of pup 719’s rescue, the adult female otters were occupied rearing other orphaned pups, making 719 ineligible for release to the wild.
It was time to search for a permanent home for pup 719, where she would be looked after by humans and fellow rescued otters. The search quickly ended with Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, having capacity in their otter exhibit. Monterey Bay and Shedd have an established relationship as pup 719 is the third stranded otter that Monterey Bay has placed in their care.
Sometimes things happen that make reintroduction to the wild too dangerous or impossible for rescued animals and keeping them at accredited zoological facilities guarantees a second chance at a full, healthy life. This particular otter cannot be released because she was not able to reach critical developmental milestones with her mom before her stranding. This leaves her with a big disadvantage when it comes to foraging for food and protecting herself in the wild.
What we can be sure of is a long, enriching life with sea otters just like her in the care of Shedd.