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Orphaned otter joins lineup of adorable animals at Alaska Sealife Center

Ben Anderson
Photo courtesy Alaska SeaLife Center

On Wednesday, a female baby otter was discovered on a road near the Homer Spit at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, and now she's the latest in a string of adorable marine mammal pups that call the Alaska SeaLife Center home.

The SeaLife Center reports the otter was discovered Wednesday afternoon, but volunteers responding to the stranded pup could not locate its mother, necessitating a rescue. The otter will now call the SeaLife Center’s “I.Sea.U.” -- a play on ICU, or Intensive Care Unit -- home.

Some quick reshuffling was needed in the unit to accommodate the otter, the center reports. Even though the I.Sea.U was originally intended to house such critters, it had until recently been home to the also-adorable walrus calves Pakak and Mitik since late July. But the walrus calves were delivered to zoos in Indianapolis and New York last week. Another calf that arrived around the same time died shortly after being delivered to the center.

The I.Sea.U. has now been set up as an “otter nursery,” a phrase could trigger cuteness-induced convulsions. The pup has only been at the center for a couple of days, but one employee said in a release that the otter is doing well, “eating 35 percent of her body weight daily from a bottle, and interacting with enrichment items.”

The center reports that the otter is between 6 and 8 weeks old and weighs a mere 8 pounds. During its stay, which the SeaLife Center warns could be short, the otter will be viewable by visitors to the center. 

“Alaskans wishing to see the otter are encouraged to visit before the end of October,” officials advised.

In a press release, SeaLife Center CEO Tara Riemer Jones thanked the center’s sponsors and noted how busy the center has been rescuing stranded marine mammals. “It was a very active summer for our stranding program,” Jones said, “and our financial resources to continue this work are depleted.”

Before the walrus calves arrived in July, the center temporarily housed a first-ever and care-intensive baby beluga calf that survived only a few weeks before succumbing to infection. That calf was rescued near a village on Alaska’s western coast.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com