Rescued Alaskan Sea Otter Finds New Home and Hope in Chicago

A sea otter orphan from Alaska is getting a second chance at life. The pup arrived at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium in late November and has been under constant care as he adapts to his new environment, the aquarium reported on Thursday.

Weighing a mere 10 pounds, the 8-week-old pup was discovered alone on October 31 in the remote coastal town of Seldovia, Alaska. He was stranded and calling out for help when wildlife rescue workers found him.

Sea otter pups typically rely on their mothers during their first year for food, care, and to learn essential skills such as foraging and hunting. Due to their inability to survive in the wild, the federal government deems them “non-releasable.”

The Alaska SeaLife Center, the organization that rescued the pup, sought assistance, and the Shedd Aquarium answered the call. The aquarium’s care team accompanied the pup on his journey from Seward, Alaska, to Chicago.

Peggy Sloan, Chief Animal Conservation Officer at Shedd Aquarium, expressed commitment to the long-term care of the newest addition to their rescued sea otter population. She emphasized the importance of creating connections for Chicagoans with this keystone species.

The unnamed pup will be fed formula from a bottle and small clam pieces every 3 hours until he grows and becomes healthy enough to survive, according to the aquarium.

Decades of commercial fishing led to a decline in sea otter populations, as reported by the U.S. Government’s Marine Mammal Commission. Although the population has slowly stabilized, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated a recovery plan for sea otters in Alaska in 2013. Some critics argue that sea otters are now overpopulated in Alaska.

Shedd Aquarium is one of only 11 institutions across North America providing homes for non-releasable sea otters, as per the aquarium’s statement.

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