An otter by another name: Shedd Aquarium reveals names for rescued sea otters

Orphaned and dubbed ‘Otter 929’ and ‘Otter 926,’ Willow was chosen by an online vote, and Suri named by aquarium staff.

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Willow and Suri at the Shedd Aquarium. They were found stranded on California beaches and brought to Chicago in October.

Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Numbers no more, say hello to Willow and Suri.

Those are the names of the two newest female rescued sea otters at the Shedd Aquarium. Willow’s name came out on top after more than 9,000 votes were cast by the public in an online poll last week, staff said. The animal care team at the aquarium chose to name the other otter Suri.

“Both names refer to locations along the coast of California where sea otters can be found, with Willow referring to a beach in Monterey County and Suri referring to Big Sur, the rugged and mountainous section of the Central Californian coastline,” staff said. “This helps make a connection to the otters’ native habitat and explain why sea otters are a vital part of these marine ecosystems.”

Willow was previously known as “Otter 929” and Suri as “Otter 926.”

Willow was found stranded at Carmel Beach State Park in California in March. Suri had been found weeks earlier at Asilomar Beach. Neither their mothers nor any other adult otters were anywhere nearby at the time. Staff at the Aquarium of the Pacific took care of the pups before they were brought to Chicago in October.

Both otters are around 10 months old and weigh about 30 pounds. Staff said that although it is difficult to tell the two apart, Suri has shorter whiter whiskers and Willow has golden, slightly longer whiskers.

“Suri is the more adventurous and active of the pair, and Willow is more reserved,” staff said.

The two sea otters will be raised at the Shedd before returning to a partner institution when they are mature enough to be surrogate mothers to orphaned sea otter pups.

Sea otters are the smallest marine species and are members of the weasel family. Adult females can weigh up to 60 pounds, and males reach 90 pounds.

Rescue otters Watson, Qilak, Cooper and Luna can also be found at the Shedd.

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