Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium Welcomes a Rescued Sea Otter Pup from Alaska

by Ryan Lee
Shedd Aquarium Otter

Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has recently become the new home for a young sea otter pup, discovered alone in Seldovia, Alaska. The 8-week-old, yet-to-be-named pup, referred to as Pup EL2306, was found in a malnourished state in October and subsequently cared for at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.

Recognizing the need for specialized care, the SeaLife Center reached out to Shedd Aquarium, one of the few U.S. facilities equipped to handle rescued otters. The otter team from Shedd undertook the journey across the country, bringing the brown, furry marine mammal to Chicago by the end of November.

Lana Gonzalez, Shedd’s manager of penguins and otters, likens nurturing the young otter to infant care, emphasizing the importance of constant feeding and grooming. Sea otters rely on their exceptionally dense fur, comprising up to a million hairs per square inch, for warmth instead of blubber. Proper grooming is thus crucial for their wellbeing.

In the absence of its mother, the aquarium staff has taken on the role of teaching the pup essential grooming skills. Tracy Deakins, the otter supervisor, uses clean towels to encourage the pup to groom itself, guiding it to clean various parts of its fur.

Currently residing in the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery, the pup is forming bonds with the aquarium staff. In the coming months, it will transition to the otter habitat, joining five other otters. Part of its developmental process involves dietary changes, moving from formula and small pieces of clam to a variety of solid foods. Gonzalez assures that the clams provided are of high quality and sustainably sourced.

Typically, sea otter pups require their mother’s care for the first year. Therefore, pups rescued at such a young age, like EL2306, are often deemed non-releasable by federal authorities. Gonzalez notes that while the pup won’t return to the wild, it will serve as an ambassador for its species at the aquarium, a role the team is enthusiastic about.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Shedd Aquarium Otter

Where was the sea otter pup found and what was its condition?

The sea otter pup, referred to as Pup EL2306, was found alone and malnourished in Seldovia, Alaska, in October.

Which facility initially took care of the rescued otter pup?

After being found in Alaska, the pup was taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward for initial care.

Why was Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium chosen for the pup’s long-term care?

Shedd Aquarium was selected due to its resources and expertise in caring for rescued sea otters, making it one of the few facilities in the U.S. capable of providing the necessary specialized care.

What are the key aspects of caring for a young sea otter like Pup EL2306?

Care includes round-the-clock feeding and grooming, as sea otters have extremely dense fur instead of blubber for warmth, requiring meticulous maintenance.

How is the Shedd Aquarium team assisting the pup’s development in the absence of its mother?

The team is teaching the pup essential grooming skills and helping it develop healthy habits, a role typically played by the mother in the wild.

What is the future plan for the sea otter pup at Shedd Aquarium?

The pup will spend a few months in the aquarium’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery, bonding with staff, and will eventually be introduced to the otter habitat to join five other otters.

Can the rescued sea otter pup be released back into the wild?

No, the pup is designated as non-releasable by federal authorities and will remain in human care at the aquarium, serving as an ambassador for its species.

More about Shedd Aquarium Otter

  • Shedd Aquarium Official Website
  • Alaska SeaLife Center
  • Sea Otter Conservation
  • Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Programs
  • Understanding Sea Otters’ Habitat and Behavior

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Julie-Anne December 7, 2023 - 10:20 am

i read somewhere that sea otters have the densest fur of any animal? Must be a lot of work grooming them!

TommyG December 7, 2023 - 8:17 pm

Heard about this on the news, great to see more on it. Shedd Aquarium seems like an awesome place for these otters.

Samantha J December 8, 2023 - 2:49 am

Wow, such a heartwarming story, glad the little guy found a safe home! Shedd aquariums doing great work.

Mike H December 8, 2023 - 3:34 am

So sad these pups lose their moms. But it’s good there are places like Shedd to take care of them.


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