An orphaned sea otter from Alaska is getting a second chance at life. The pup arrived at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago at the end of November and has been receiving round-the-clock care as he gets used to his new surroundings, the aquarium said Thursday.
Weighing just 10 pounds, the 8-week-old pup was found alone on Oct. 31 in the remote coastal town of Seldovia, Alaska. He was stranded and crying out for help when wildlife rescue workers found him.
Sea otter pups typically need their mothers during their first year of life for food, care, and to learn where to forage and how to hunt. The federal government considers them “non-releasable” back into the wild as they wouldn’t be able to survive.
Alaska SeaLife Center, the organization that rescued the pup, put out a call for assistance and the Shedd Aquarium responded. The aquarium’s care team accompanied the pup for his cross-country journey from Seward, Alaska, to Chicago.
“With this newest addition to our rescued population of sea otters, we’re committed to his long-term care and continuing to create connections for Chicagoans to this important keystone species,” said Peggy Sloan, chief animal conservation officer at Shedd Aquarium.
The pup, which has not been named, will be eating formula out of a bottle and small pieces of clam every 3 hours until he grows and is healthy enough to survive, the aquarium said.
Sea otter populations were decimated after decades of commercial fishing, according to the U.S. Government’s Marine Mammal Commission. The population has slowly begun to stabilize, and in 2013 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated a recovery plan in Alaska for sea otters. Some critics now say sea otters are overpopulated in Alaska.
Only 11 institutions across North America, including Shedd Aquarium, provide homes for non-releasable sea otters, the aquarium said.
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