Kiana the sea otter diagnosed with lymphoma, given end-of-life care at Shedd Aquarium

ByZach Ben-Amots WLS logo
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
An Ocean on the Lake: Inside Chicago's Shedd Aquarium
An Ocean on the Lake: Inside Chicago's Shedd AquariumKiana the 16-year-old northern sea otter has spent her entire life at Shedd after being rescued as a pup off the coast of Alaska. Now she's been diagnosed with lymphoma, and Shedd

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kiana the northern sea otter, who was one of the most beloved animals at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, has died at 16 nearly a year after being diagnosed with Lymphoma.

Christy Sterling was first hired at Shedd to take care of Kiana in 2005, right after the orphaned otter pup had been rescued in Alaska. Sterling spent the past 16 years working with Kiana.

"Taking care of an otter pup is kind of like taking care of a baby," Sterling said. "That's how I got to know Kiana. I knew her ever since I could pretty much hold her and feed her a bottle of formula."

One of five sea otters currently living at Shedd, Kiana was a geriatric animal who spends much of her time chewing on ice cubes and cleaning her fur (sea otters have the densest fur in the animal kingdom). The elderly otter had recently completed her final treatment of chemotherapy, when staff estimated that she was entering her final stages of life a year after her cancer diagnosis.

'Kiana the Sea Otter' is episode one of 'An Ocean On The Lake,' the multi-part behind-the-scenes series from ABC 7 Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. It was produced prior to Kiana's death. Watch this first segment to learn more about Kiana, and about the importance of protecting sea otters, who are currently an endangered species. Find every episode on our homepage for "An Ocean On The Lake," or watch on our ABC 7 Chicago connected TV App.


This story was updated on June 16, after Kiana had passed away.