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Rescued Sea Otter Pup

The new sea otter pup (left) is getting along well with her new companion Tanu (right)

The Rescue

In mid-October several people reported seeing a sea otter pup on a road near Homer, Alaska.  After efforts to find her mother failed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the Alaska SeaLife Center to rescue her. She was immediately taken to its I.Sea.U for emergency treatment and critical care. Because of the intensive maternal care required by young otters, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed her non-releasable.

Baby Otter
Caring for baby otter

Around-The-Clock Care

Shortly after her arrival, the Alaska SeaLife Center invited the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal rescue and animal care teams to help provide the pup with the intensive, around-the-clock care she needed.  A rotating team of Aquarium specialists spent more than 2,000 hours to help rehabilitate and care for this young otter.  For 17 weeks the team rotated shifts – flying to and from Alaska to help share their expertise and care for the pup.  To date, the Vancouver Aquarium has spent more than $40,000 to ensure this otter pup has the best chance of survival. 

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Learning To Eat

When she was first rescued, the pup, which was estimated to be around eight weeks old, was bottle fed a special high-calorie formula every two hours.  Because young sea otters consume up to 35% of their body weight everyday it’s critical that her metabolic needs are met. Sea otter pups also need lots of help grooming so the Aquarium team, armed with lots of fluffy towels, made sure her coat kept her warm and dry.  

As time progressed, the pup was slowly introduced to bits of clam and squid and, by the end of November, she was fully weaned and entirely eating solid food. By this time her baby coat had also entirely been replaced by a brand new adult coat of fur and she was doing an excellent job of grooming by herself.  
Learn more about sea otters.

Baby Otter Bottle Feeding
Baby Otter

A New Home

Because the pup has not developed the necessary skills that would enable her to survive in the wild, the Vancouver Aquarium opened its doors to provide her with a permanent home. Her transfer to the Vancouver Aquarium means she will receive the ongoing care she needs. The special bond that was created between the pup and her Aquarium caregivers during her rehabilitation has also helped her settle into her new surroundings.

Now weighing approximately 15 kilograms, the pup is eating a nutritious diet of clams, squid, shrimp and crab. She was introduced to her new companion, Tanu, on March 26. The two are getting along well. Tanu, a female sea otter, was also found stranded as a pup and rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center before joining the Aquarium in 2004.

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The Sea Otter Pup Has A New Name: Katmai

Katmai is a national park in coastal Alaska, within the range of the Northern sea otter. This area was designated a national park to protect its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife. Alaska natives are known to have inhabited this coastal area for at least 6,000 years. Significant conservation efforts have helped to protect Northern sea otters. Katmai is from the managed population of Northern sea otters.

Thank you to everyone who voted on her new name.


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