An orphaned sea otter found alone and malnourished in a remote Alaska town now has a new home.
The 8-week-old pup, who has not yet been given a name, was rescued from the remote coastal town of Seldovia and taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center. The pup has now been adopted by Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, which is one of the only a few facilities in the United States with resources to care for rescued otters.
"He was found stranded, vocalizing in distress with no mother in sight, and another adult male sea otter approaching aggressively," the aquarium said. "(The center) rehabilitated the dehydrated, malnourished and wounded sea otter providing him with the 24/7 care necessary for pups."
After the necessary arrangements were made, the aquarium’s otter team made the cross-country journey with the 10-pound fluffy brown marine mammal and arrived in Chicago on Nov. 29.
Pup needs extensive care
Stranded sea otter pups require extensive care, according to the aquarium, and the pup is currently eating formula out of a bottle and small pieces of clam every 3 hours.
“Caring for a little otter pup is just like caring for an infant,” Lana Gonzalez, a manager of penguins and otter at Shedd, told the Associated Press.
“He also needs to get groomed," she said. "Sea otters have a very dense coat — there’s anywhere from 700,000 to a million hairs per square inch, and that’s what they use to keep themselves warm. They don’t have a thick layer of blubber or fat like other marine mammals do, so taking care of that coat is very important."
The aquarium said that the pup will remain in Shedd’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery for a few months and get acquainted with the staff and his new home before he'll eventually be introduced to the otter habitat and the five other otters at the aquarium.
The federal government designates orphaned and stranded sea otter pups as non-releasable, especially if they are found very young as they need their mothers for the first year of their life for food, care, and to learn where to forage and how to hunt after they are weaned.
“Once we bring him into our care he won’t be released back out into the natural environment, they’re just too used to people," Gonzalez told AP. "But the good news is that he’ll be able to be an ambassador for his species here at the aquarium, so we’re really happy about that."
Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @saman_shafiq7.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Orphaned Alasksan sea otter gets new home at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium