Shedd Aquarium Welcomes Two Rescued Sea Otter Pups

Shannon Blum
July 11, 2019 - 1:26 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- More cuteness has been added at the Shedd Aquarium.

The Shedd Aquarium announced Thursday that it has taken in two orphaned southern sea otter pups that were rescued by California's Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The otter pups arrived at Shedd on Monday and are receiving around the clock care from Shedd’s animal care and veterinarian teams behind the scenes. The Shedd said the pups, temporarily referred to as Pups 870 and 872, will remain behind the scenes in the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery for a few months as they reach important development milestones and build bonds with the care staff and the other otters at Shedd before they are officially introduced to the otter habitat.

According to the Shedd, both otter pups are male and only one week apart in age. Pup 872 is estimated to be 9 weeks old, weighing in at 13.4 pounds and Pup 870 is estimated to be 10 weeks old, weighing in at 17 pounds. 

“While it’s never good news to hear that an animal has been orphaned or in need of rescue, Shedd Aquarium stands ready to step in to assist – whether that’s rehabilitating and releasing animals, in this case, providing a safe home for those that need it,” said Peggy Sloan, chief animal operations officer at Shedd Aquarium. “We are honored to work with our partners at Monterey Bay Aquarium to bring in these two pups and continue to excite and educate our guests about these unbelievable aquatic animals.”

The Shedd Aquarium announced Thursday that it has taken in two orphaned southern sea otter pups that were rescued by California's Monterey Bay Aquarium.
©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Monterey Bay Aquarium took in the otters after they were deemed as "non-releasable" by U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, because they weren't raised by their mothers and taught how to survive in the wild.

The first pup, Pup 870, was discovered stranded on May 18 near Stillwater Cove in Carmel Bay.  Although the pup was healthy, it was unsuccessful in finding its mother and staff did not want to leave the pup vulnerable and alone. The second pup, Pup 872, was brought into Monterey Bay two days later, on May 20. It was found in distress and vocalizing in high winds and heavy surf at Asilomar State Beach. According to the Shedd, the pup was shivering, hypothermic and its coat was filled with sand – suggesting it was tossed in the surf. The decision was made to immediately take in the pup for stabilization.

The Shedd Aquarium stepped in to help Monterey Bay, after learning its sea otter surrogacy program was at capacity. 

The Shedd Aquarium announced Thursday that it has taken in two orphaned southern sea otter pups that were rescued by California's Monterey Bay Aquarium.
©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

“With decades of experience on the forefront of the sea otter recovery effort, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sea otter program has assisted in hundreds of rescues, rehabilitations and releases that have contributed to sea otter conservation and ecosystem restoration,” said Karl Mayer, sea otter field response coordinator at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program. “We are thankful for longstanding partnerships like the one with Shedd Aquarium, who can continue to provide exceptional care to the otters that come through our program and need a home but cannot survive on their own in the wild.”

The Shedd has been busy caring for the two orphaned sea otter pups, between feeding, check-ups, grooming, playing and more. 

“These two pups kept us busy from the moment we arrived,” said Tracy Deakins, senior trainer at Shedd Aquarium who accompanied the otter pups on their trip to Chicago. “It was an incredibly rewarding experience to see all that Monterey Bay does for sea otters and to bring these two pups to their new home here at Shedd.”

The Shedd Aquarium announced Thursday that it has taken in two orphaned southern sea otter pups that were rescued by California's Monterey Bay Aquarium.
©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

As Pups 870 and 872 familiarize with their new surroundings, they’ll also continue to achieve many important milestones, which include eating solid foods such as shrimp and clams and building important otter skills like foraging for food, grooming on their own and socializing with the other otters and with Shedd’s animal care team.

The Shedd will continue to provide updates on the pups’ development over the subsequent months and when guests can expect to see them in the sea otter habitat. Shedd will also share any plans around naming the pups as they formalize.

According to the Shedd, only a handful of facilities in the United States have available space, staff and experience to provide that level of care. Currently, 11 institutions across North America, including Shedd, provide homes for 36 non-releasable southern sea otters. 

These two pups are the latest success story in the continued partnership between Shedd and Monterey Bay. Some folks may remember when Shedd brought in Luna in 2014 or Ellie in 2016 – both otters that were rescued and brought in through Monterey’s sea otter program before arriving in Chicago.