Rescued baby sea otter thriving in Chicago

An orphaned baby otter found stranded at a San Mateo County beach in September is now living at a Chicago aquarium where it is receiving round-the-clock care and learning how to be an otter, aquarium officials said.

The roughly month-old otter, referred to as Pup 681, was found on Sept. 30 by a passerby who heard the animal’s cries while walking near Coastways Beach in San Mateo County near the Santa Cruz County line, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Karl Mayer, Animal Care Coordinator for the aquarium’s sea otter program, said:

“On arrival at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 681 weighed 1 kg, which is tiny for a newborn sea otter, and she had been separated from mom for at least 16 hours.”

The aquarium later reached out to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, one of only a handful of facilities in the United States equipped to provide the care needed to ensure a stranded sea otter pup’s survival, according to aquarium officials.

Tim Binder, Vice President of Animal Collections at the Shedd Aquarium, said in a statement:

“It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter. … Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter.”

Since being transferred to the Chicago facility late last month, the pup is thriving and reaching milestones every day such as taking formula from a bottle, eating solid foods including shrimp and clams and climbing onto towels to be groomed.

More than 700 sea otters — including injured animals and orphaned pups like Pup 681 — have been rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium over the past 25 years and treated and released as part of the aquarium’s Sea Otter Program.