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Shedd Aquarium staff teaching orphaned pup ‘how to be an otter’

A weeks-old sea otter pup found alone and afraid on a California beach has a second chance at life, thanks in part to the Shedd Aquarium.

The 6-pound, 22.6-inch long female pup arrived at the downtown aquarium Oct. 28 after being cared for at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for the first four weeks of her life, a statement from the Shedd said.

She was only 2 pounds — “tiny” for an otter — and barely a week old when a person taking an evening walk heard crying and found her alone on Coastways Beach near San Mateo County, California.

Experts think she had been separated from her mother for at least 16 hours when she was found, the aquarium said.

“Pup 681’s situation was urgent,” Shedd Vice President of Animal Collections Tim Binder said, referring to the otter’s current name.

“As an organization dedicated to marine mammal care and conservation, we were perfectly positioned to ensure that this little pup had a home, providing the long-term care needed to survive,” Binder said.

The otter pup has been doing well since arriving at the Shedd, and is currently receiving round-the-clock care behind the scenes at the facility’s Abbott Oceanarium.

Animal care experts and veterinarians are teaching her to groom, forage and feed herself, and regulate her own body temperature by getting in and out of the water.

“Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter,” Binder said. “While the process is lengthy, our hands-on experience and long history rehabilitating sea otters allows us to use our expertise to work on saving this pup’s life by providing her with a home and the care she needs.”

Since arriving at the Shedd, Pup 681 has learned to take formula from a bottle, eat solid foods like shrimp and clams, and climb on towels to dry off after taking a dip.

She is the second pup from the threatened southern sea otter population at the Shedd Aquarium.