The Shedd Aquarium debuted an adorable new addition to their family of sea otters Thursday with the adoption of Cayucos, an orphaned 10-week-old southern sea otter pup, the first of her kind to reside at the aquarium, which has housed Alaskan sea otters for decades.
Cayucos was found in California in early December, where she was rescued and stabilized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation program, a sister institution of the Shedd, according to a news release from the aquarium. As one of few facilities with the housing space and resources needed to care for a pup, the Shedd Aquarium was chosen as Cayucos' permanent home.
"Shedd Aquarium is one of the country’s top marine mammal conservation and education organizations, so it was only natural that we do whatever it takes to make sure that a pup of a threatened otter population survives," Jim Robinett, Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs at Shedd, said in a statement. "Shedd's animal care expertise and world-class facility enabled us to offer her a home and the highest quality care that she needs when all options seemed lost."
Cayucos will have 24 hour care, seven days a week in the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery, where she will be off-limits to visitors until she has learned necessary behaviors like foraging and grooming, according to the aquarium. Since arriving, she has already progressed from dependence on bottle-fed formula to eating solid foods, like shrimp and clams.
Cayucos' species is particularly at risk, with fewer than 3,000 southern sea otters alive in the wild today, according to the aquarium. They were listed as "threatened" under the 1977 Endangered Species Act, and their population has stagnated in recent years.
See photos of the adorable pup in action: