Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
It's a well-known fact that otters are ridiculously cute. They're playful, silly, and just look at those sweet little faces! Precious!
It's no surprise then that when we read an article and saw a video at Today.com about Cayucos, a baby otter that had been orphaned and rescued, and who is currently being raised by a team of "surrogate mothers" at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, we just had to know more. We went straight to the source and asked Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training, some really hard-hitting questions — including how the staff keep themselves from snuggling that darling little baby all day long.
A: Ken Ramirez: It really depends on several factors. Facilities like Shedd Aquarium try to help out as much as possible whenever we have the space in our exhibits to house additional otters. It also requires quite a significant investment in staffing, so each facility has to cover those costs themselves. And it depends on how many pups are stranded and need to be rescued. There could be a few in a year or there could be none — it just depends on the particular year.
A: Monterey Bay Aquarium has been able to successfully rehabilitate otters using surrogate sea otters and release them back into the wild. But this is a new process and one that has not yet been perfected — thus some otters have to be reared by humans. When that happens, as with Cayucos, they are not able to be released back into the wild due to being too comfortable around people, which would be a threat to their safety and to human safety if they were released back into the wild.
A: Caring for a pup is very much like being a parent with a newborn baby; you have to be extra vigilant, feedings round the clock, care at all hours. This can be taxing and very demanding — but, also like being a parent, we are very happy to do it.
A: Some of the milestones she has yet to reach include being completely independent in her grooming, learning to forage food effectively and learning how to open and eat shellfish. She also needs to be weaned off of formula and she must start to eat all solid foods on a regular daytime schedule. Eventually she will need to learn how to socialize and live with the other otters in our collection, and be advanced in her training.
A: We will give her a variety of toys throughout the day and also give her ice to play with. She will sometimes bring toys over toward us, and we will toss them back out for her to bring back again. We also spend a lot of time grooming her, which helps with the quality of her coat but [also] gives her needed social interaction, which seems to be something she enjoys, and it is certainly something we enjoy.
A: She still needs to do a bit of growing and become more independent in her grooming. She also needs to be on a feed schedule that is the same as the adults. We probably will introduce her to one of our female otters in one to two months.
A: She is very curious and playful. She creates games for herself with the toys — putting them in her mouth and porpoising around in her habitat.
A: It is difficult not to want to constantly watch her, but knowing that she needs to learn to be independent and having many other cleaning or food preparation tasks [that need] to be accomplished in our day helps us to be able to break away.
A: I don't think we would argue with that; she definitely is adorable. We are pleased that we could give her a home.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
From bringing in your puppy or kitten to
telling your friends about him or her, there
are plenty of ways to make a…
Studies show that therapy dogs are
helping kids recover from anesthesia and
having a positive effect on medical…
Have you heard that kittens can raise
themselves or that it's OK to let cats stay
home alone for long periods of…
Minimize the risk of a bad trick-or-treat
interaction by brushing up on your dog’s
manners before October 31.
Dr. Jenna Ashton shares how to
determine your pet's water intake and tips
for encouraging him to drink more.
If your cat's routine is thrown off by scary
decorations and trick-or-treaters, she
might not be on her best…
The Schapendoes (aka Dutch Sheepdog)
is known for his incredible jumping skills
and cheerful personality.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.