Orphaned sea otter pups get second chance at Shedd Aquarium

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two rescued sea otter pups have found a new home at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

The aquarium announced Thursday they have welcomed the pair of orphaned southern sea otter pups who have been deemed non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services because they were not raised by their mothers and taught how to survive in the wild.

The pups arrived on July 8 from California's Monterey Bay Aquarium, who are world famous for their rescue, release, conservation research and advocacy organization dedicated to the recovery of the species.

The pups, who are temporarily referred to as Pups 870 and 872, will remain behind the scenes in the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery for the time being while they grow and reach important developmental milestones and build bonds with the care staff and other otters.

Staff said both pups are male and only one week apart in age. Pup 872 is estimated to be 9-weeks-old, weighing in at 13.4 lbs., while Pup 870 is roughly 10-weeks-old, weighing in at 17 lbs.

Pup 870 was discovered stranded alone near Stillwater Cove in Carmel Bay, California on May 18. Rescuers said while the pup was clinically healthy, they could not locate the mother and didn't want to risk leaving the pup vulnerable and alone.

Two days later, Pup 872 was found in distress at Asilomar State Beach in California among high winds and heavy surf. Rescuers said the pup was shivering, hypothermic and its coat was filled with sand, which they said suggests it was tossed in the surf.

"While everyone may not be able to go out and rescue or provide a home for a sea otter in need, we have to remember that the survival of a species like the southern sea otter is a group effort - it takes all of us," said Peggy Sloan, chief animal operations officer at Shedd Aquarium. "Southern sea otters would not be around today if it weren't for dedicated individuals who passed critical legislation like the Endangered Species Act, providing the protections necessary for the populations to rebound. Our job is to facilitate a connection between the guests at the aquarium and nature to help the public see that we all have the ability to make a difference."

Shedd Aquarium will provide updates on the pups' development and when guests can expect to see them in the sea otter habitat.
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