Shedd’s sea otter pup is 12 weeks old, weighs 12 pounds and has a new name: Luna! In case you haven’t gotten enough cuteness since this little one arrived at Shedd on Oct. 28 (and is there such a thing as too much sea otter cuteness?), here’s Luna’s baby album to date!
The infant southern sea otter known as Pup 681 is welcomed to Shedd by Lisa Takaki, senior director of marine mammals. The 5-week-old motherless pup, accompanied by a Shedd trainer and veterinarian, arrived from California in the early hours of Oct. 28.
First things first: The pup gets a bottle of warm clam-based formula, with more to come every three hours. Sea otter pups consume the equivalent of 30 percent of their body weight every day.
Then she settles into her own private nursery pool behind the scenes in the Regenstein Sea Otter Habitat of the Abbott Oceanarium, where she’ll receive around-the-clock care for several months.
A week after her arrival, 681 is growing fast and already learning to take solid food from a trainer.
Toys help the pup develop coordination and provide her with mental stimulation. (She also likes to chew on them.) She nestles in fabric car-wash strips that resemble the kelp she’d play and sleep in along California’s coast.
By Nov. 11 she’s helping to groom herself, grabbing at the bath towel and rubbing herself on it. It’s essential that her fluffy pup fur is thoroughly dried after a swim so that she stays warm.
Trainers track her health and development through daily weighings. Toys to chew help the pup sit still on the scale.
Like any baby, she needs a lot of sleep. She’ll doze off in the middle of eating, grooming, or playing.
At 8 weeks old, the pup plays with lots of toys―things that roll, float, sink, are self-propelled, or can be batted around. Sea otters have short attention spans, so variety is essential.
Of course it’s always fun to wrap up and roll around in car-wash “kelp.”
Ice cubes are a sea otter favorite toy and treat.
Even the empty ice bucket is fun to play with. At 10 weeks, the pup has lost most of her baby fur, and she has almost doubled in weight—to 10½ pounds—since her arrival at Shedd.
Appearing to wave to Shedd members at the party to announce her name, Luna turns a towel into a chew toy. Attending members got a first sneak peek at the pup in the Regenstein Sea Otter Habitat. Luna will continue to grow up in her nursery behind the scenes, however, until she makes her official debut sometime in the spring.
―Karen Furnweger, web editor