The Shedd Aquarium is the new home for a 10-week-old sea otter found orphaned on the California coast last month, the aquarium announced today.
The female pup, now weighing about 15 pounds, was found near the southern end of the Big Sur Coast near Cayucos, Calif., about 100 miles north of Santa Barbara on Dec. 16, by volunteers from California’s Marine Mammal Center, said Andrea Smalec, a spokeswoman for the Shedd.
The Shedd hopes to introduce the pup, the first southern sea otter at the aquarium, to the public in the summer, according to a news release.
The pup, whom Shedd staff have named Cayucos, joins five northern sea otters from Alaska that are at the Shedd. There are only about 3,000 southern sea otters in the wild.
The pup was seen at daybreak on Dec. 16, going in and out of the water, but no distressed adult sea otters were sene nearby, “so no attempt at reunite with the mother was made,” Smalec said.
Cayucos was brought to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Shedd worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and sent Shedd animal care staff to help stabilize her because few institutions have the facilities to care for a sea otter that’s only a few weeks old, Smalec said.
“It was only natural that we do whatever it takes to make sure that a pup of a threatened otter population survives,” said Jim Robinett, Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs at Shedd, in a release.
Since Cayucos arrived at the Shedd on Jan. 5, she’s been cared for around the clock in the aquarium’s sea otter nursery, where she’s been learning to groom, forage and feed herself, as well as regulate her own body temperature.
“Cayucos is acclimating very well to her new surroundings in Shedd’s pup pool, which was added during the renovation of our Abbott Oceanarium in 2009,” said Ken Ramirez, head of animal care at the Shedd. “She is achieving new milestones every day, including taking formula from a bottle and eating solid foods, such as shrimp and clams.”