It's a miracle!
Olive, the beloved otter who captured the hearts of Californians three years ago after she was found covered in oil on a Monterey Bay beach, has brought a baby into the world.
Scientists spotted her clutching a pup as she swam near a popular surf spot in Santa Cruz earlier this month. She's the first otter in the state's history to both successfully survive an oil rehabilitation and go on to deliver healthy offspring.
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"It's really remarkable. What we can learn from her, from this whole story, is incredibly valuable," Dr. Bill Van Bonn, director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "This is not a commonplace occurrence at all. It's great news."
Olive made headlines in 2009 when she washed up on Sunset State Beach completely doused in an oil that had leaked naturally from underground reserves. Caretakers washed her and nursed her back to health before releasing her back into the wild, and experts have monitored her progress ever since.
Fans have tracked Olive's odyssey on Facebook and were delighted by the news of her baby. "My 4-year-old daughter is having a party for Olive's pup in two weeks," one follower wrote. "Congrats lil mama!" said another.
Olive earned her name because scientists used olive oil to help clean her coat during her rescue. Though officials don't plan to name the baby, fans have already eagerly begun offering suggestions. So far, "Pimento" appears to be the favorite.
Take a look at images of Olive (with and without her pup) below: