A 5-year-old California sea otter named “Abby” has returned from SeaWorld to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in hopes of one day becoming a surrogate mother for wild otter pups that are rescued and eventually returned to the wild. In her place, SeaWorld has received Kit, a 2½-year-old California sea otter. SeaWorld will provide long term care for Kit and she will live with the park’s other sea otters.
Abby was originally rescued by the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Rescue Center in 2007 after being found in critical condition at approximately two days old on a beach north of Santa Barbara, weighing only three pounds. She was brought to SeaWorld where under the guidance of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program staff, was rehabilitated and hand-raised at SeaWorld San Diego. Now, she is returning to Monterey to help other otter pups in need by becoming a surrogate mother. SORAC hopes that Abby will help rescued otter pups have a more successful chance of being returned to the ocean and surviving in the wild.
Kit, named after Kit Carson, is adjusting well to her new home at SeaWorld San Diego. Initially she was introduced to an otter named Clover in a behind-the-scenes pool and the next day she was introduced to the park’s other others out on display at Otter Outlook. Kit was rescued by SORAC in 2010 after being found on a beach separated from her mother. SeaWorld and SORAC hope that in a few years as Kit matures, she can become a surrogate mother as well.
Here is Animal Care Specialist, Mark Bressler, with an inside look at the exchange of the otters:
SeaWorld has a long history of caring for sea otters and currently cares for three others that were taken in from the SORAC program at Monterey Bay Aquarium. The California sea otter is listed as a threatened species by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Threats include oil spills, entanglement in fishing nets and disease.
In addition to taking in animals in need from other facilities, SeaWorld rescues between 150 and 200 marine mammals from local beaches every year, with a goal of rehabilitation and return to the ocean.