CHICAGO (CBS) — The Shedd Aquarium is now home to two orphaned sea otters who were found in California.
The pups, who arrived earlier this week, were originally rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The animals are known as Pups 870 and 872. They’ve been cared for by the Shedd Aquarium’s animal care and veterinarian teams.
According to the aquarium, the sea otters will be away from the public as they stay in the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery for a few months as they continue to grow and, according to Shedd “reach important development milestones and build bonds with the care staff and the other otters before they are officially introduced to the otter habitat.”
Both pups are male and are about a week apart. 872 is estimated to be about nine weeks old weighing a little over 13 pounds and 870 is a little older, at about 10 weeks, weighing 10 pounds.
“While it’s never good news to hear that an animal has been orphaned or in need of rescue, Shedd Aquarium stands ready to step in to assist – whether that’s rehabilitating and releasing animals, in this case, providing a safe home for those that need it,” said Peggy Sloan, chief animal operations officer at Shedd Aquarium.
When the animals were originally taken to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the animals “non-releasable.” That means the pups were not likely raised by their mothers and taught how to survive in the wild. So they may not have survived if they were immediately released into their natural habitat.
“These two pups kept us busy from the moment we arrived,” said Tracy Deakins, senior trainer at Shedd Aquarium who accompanied the otter pups on their trip to Chicago. “It was an incredibly rewarding experience to see all that Monterey Bay does for sea otters and to bring these two pups to their new home here.”
Traditionally, sea otters usually stay with their mother until they are at least eight months old. The animals have to eat at least 25% of its body weight “to maintain a high metabolic rate, which keeps their internal body temperature at 100 degrees.”
Male sea otters can reach a weight of up to 90 pounds. The animals’ diet can be made up of abalone, clams, crabs, octopus and sea urchins.
The Shedd Aquarium said it plans to provide updates on the development of the pups, when names will be chosen and when the public will have a chance to check out the cute creatures.