Shedd Aquarium sea otter Kachemak euthanized at 23

August 26, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The aquarium told The Associated Press on Monday that it euthanized Kachemak Saturday. Kachemak was 23 years and 6 months old. Scientists say she exceeded her life expectancy by several years. She was the first sea otter that the Shedd Aquarium raised from infancy.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found Kachemak stranded and orphaned on a beach in Alaska in 1990. She was just 6 weeks old when she came to Chicago. Wildlife officials speculated that the 6-pound otter had been separated from her mother during a storm. Read more: The aquarium built a special nursery for her before she moved in with the older otters. She later lived in the aquarium's Oceanarium.

The Shedd Aquarium now has four sea otters.

The otter was named Kachemak after the bay where she was found.

The Shedd Aquarium website says when Kackemak first arrived in Chicago, her high-maintenance care revolved around a four-hour cycle of sleep, wake up, poop, eat, poop, get groomed, play and then go back to sleep. She had to consume one-third of her body weight in food every day. She was bottle-fed a calorie-rich puree of clam meat, squid, half-and-half, dextrose solution, vitamins and a calcium supplement. Then she got a plate of bits of shrimp, pollock and clams. Afterward, she was bathed and carefully towel-dried, and her fur was laboriously groomed with a brush and hair dryer to maintain its insulation and waterproofing. As she got older, Kachemak learned to squeeze the water out of her fur with her mittlike paws, then fluff it dry herself.

The aquarium euthanized Kenai, also exceeding her life expectancy at 23, last October.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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