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Meet Suri and Willow, Two Newly Named Otters at Shedd Aquarium

After Acclimating to Their New Home, Both Otters are Now Viewable to the Public

November 01, 2022

Sea otter floats on its back with paws covering its mouth in a small pool.

Shedd Aquarium is revealing the winning names for two female rescued southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) that were joyfully welcomed earlier this month. Guests also have an opportunity to come face-to-face with the furry new additions along with the rest of the rescued otter population like Luna, Cooper and Watson in the Abbott Oceanarium. The animal care team chose the name Suri for Otter 926, which refers to Big Sur. After over 9,000 votes were cast during the last week with an online poll, the public chose the name Willow for Otter 929, named after Willow Creek Picnic Area and Beach in Monterey County, California.

Both names refer to locations along the coast of California where sea otters can be found, with Willow referring to a beach in Monterey County and Suri referring to Big Sur, the rugged and mountainous section of the Central Californian coastline. This helps make a connection to the otters’ native habitat and explain why sea otters are a vital part of these marine ecosystems. Other name choices included Jade and Sunny, also derived from areas within the animals’ range. The aquarium has asked various audiences and public to help name several animals in the past, including beluga whales, dolphins, penguins and more.

Suri and Willow can be identified from other resident otters by their comparatively small size, with both currently weighing around 30 pounds and their darker-colored fur. While it is difficult to tell the pair apart, Suri has shorter whiter whiskers and Willow has slightly longer golden whiskers. Additionally, Suri is the more adventurous and active of the pair, and Willow is more reserved.

To have a chance to spot these new additions, guests can plan a visit to the aquarium to see the otters that call Shedd home. Guests can also book a virtual sea otter encounter to get an in-depth look at the otters as they dive, socialize, vocalize and groom. By purchasing a ticket or participating in a program, you are supporting the mission and work of the aquarium.

BACKGROUND: Shedd Aquarium welcomed the two female rescued southern sea otters from Aquarium of the Pacific, a partner institution in Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Surrogacy Program, on Oct. 12, 2022. The two new additions will be raised at Shedd before returning to a partner institution in the surrogacy program when they are mature enough to be surrogate mothers to orphaned sea otter pups. More information about their arrival can be found here:

VISUALS: New high-resolution photos of the otters are available here, as well as a video from the sea otter caretakers:
Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Lana Gonzalez