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Rescued Sea Otter Pups at Shedd Aquarium Receive Official Names

A Public Vote During Sea Otter Awareness Week Generated Nearly 20,000 Votes

September 30, 2019

Two sea otter pups enjoy enrichment playing in a bed of "kelp," ice and snack on treats.

After a week and half of voting, two rescued sea otter pups at Shedd Aquarium have official names. Nearly 20,000 votes from across the country helped decide names for the orphaned otter pups taken in by Shedd in early July. The digital vote, hosted during the popular Sea Otter Awareness Week, focused not only on telling both the pups’ individual stories, but also on building affinity and understanding around sea otters and inspiring voters to also make their voices heard in support of conservation legislation and protections that are critical for vulnerable species like otters. The two winning names are:

  • Cooper: named after Cupertino, Calif., near San Jose
  • Watson: named after the town of Watsonville, near Monterey and Port Watsonville, less than an hour drive from where pup 872 was found

Shedd Aquarium’s animal care staff prepared the shortlist of names for the public to choose from, and all the names correspond to a location along the coast of California where sea otters can be found. This helps the aquarium make a connection with guests to their native habitat and explain why sea otters are an important part of the marine ecosystem.

Cooper (formerly Pup 870) and Watson (formerly Pup 872) were previously referred to by their intake numbers, given to them when they were rescued by partners at Monterey Bay Aquarium. The pups, both males, were discovered on the coast of California with no mother or adult otters in sight at just a couple weeks old and were cared for at Monterey before Shedd Aquarium’s Animal Response Team flew out to California to assist in their care and accompany them home to Chicago.

Since their arrival at Shedd, the five-month-old pups have been living behind the scenes in the Regenstein Pup Nursery as animal care staff teach them how to be otters – building important skills like foraging, diving and grooming their dense fur. But the animal care team is now gradually introducing them to the public habitat over the next few weeks, meaning guests may soon have their first opportunity to see the pups with their own eyes.

“We are delighted by all the excitement that this naming vote generated and even happier to have decided on two wonderful names for our rescued pups,” said Lana Gonzalez, manager of penguins and otters at Shedd Aquarium. “We look forward to telling the stories of these two pups with guests and inspiring the public to take action of species like sea otters to keep them around well into the future.”

Shedd Aquarium is grateful to the Regenstein Foundation for its generous support for the rescue and rehabilitation of Shedd Aquarium’s newest sea otters. A longtime friend to the aquarium, the foundation has made significant contributions to these animals over many years, ensuring expert care in their home in the Regenstein Foundation Otter Habitat and Pup Nursery. Additional support for the rescue of these otters was generously provided by Lauran and Myrna Bromley.

VISUALS: High resolution photos/video of rescued otter pups at Shedd:

https://personal.filesanywhere.com/fs/v.aspx?v=8e69688659616db2a7a5

Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez