In early January, a 4-week-old sea otter pup was found alone on a beach in Carmel Beach in Carmel, California. Most likely, storms had separated the female pup from her mother. Luckily, she wasn't far from Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a leader in rehabilitating wild sea otter pups and can often release them back to the wild.
Often, but not always. While this young pup received top-notch care, she isn't able to be released back to the wild. "Despite her good health and normal progress, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that Pup 719 would not be able to go back to the ocean. Sea otter pups stay with their mothers for up to nine months, learning everything they need to know to survive in the wild, and that time was cut very short for this pup," reports the Shedd Aquarium.
“There are limited options for stranded sea otter pups,” said Tim Binder, Shedd’s executive vice president of animal care. “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.”
Shedd Aquarium has become the permanent home for this adorable pup, who arrived there on Jan. 27 from Monterey Bay Aquarium and has been flourishing under their care.
"Healthy, alert and feisty, she has required less hands-on attention than a newborn. Even so, Pup 719, now weighing 11 pounds, receives around-the-clock care from her Shedd surrogate moms, a rotating team of six to eight animal care experts," says the aquarium.
While she still goes by the name pup 719, she may receive a more flattering name now that she has found her forever home.
Check out a video of 719 enjoying her new digs: