“It’s a girl!” Just announced by the Seattle Times. She’s 11 days old today. Monday I visited the Seattle Aquarium in hopes of photographing the new sea otter pup (sex was still unknown). Seattleites have been hoping for a female, which would remain here, if it had been a male his destiney was another aquarium.
I chatted with a few of the aquarium staff while watching Aniak groom and nurse her new baby. She held the pup on her belly, turning her over and over again to groom every inch of her little body, taking a break now and then to let her nurse. Occasionally Aniak would place the pup on the ‘curbing’ and then feed and groom herself. Aniak would also lay the pup next to her on the water, the natal pelage (fluffy pup fur) allowing her to float like a cork! At 6 weeks old she’ll begin hedding this fur and by 10 weeks her coat will look more like that of an adult. She’ll begin diving and eating solid food duing this time.
But, what’s special about the new pup? She was unexpected, an “accident.” Surprised as I was to hear this I now understand. The aquarium isn’t for ‘breeding’ but for the rescue and rehabiliation of marine animals. In fact, Aniak was on birth control when she got pregnant. Yes, apparently it happens in the animal kingdom just as with us humans. So, not only was this little pup conceived on ‘birth control’ but her chance of living at birth was 50%. Because sea otters are born underwater the pup must make it to the surface for it’s first breath…only half of all pups born make it there before taking a breath. Two strikes against her yet here she is, a very fluffy 4 lb. creature with the cutest button nose and eyes that are hard to see beneath all the downy fur.
Check out the Seattle Aquarium’s website for more info and a chance to “name the new baby otter.” http://blog.seattleaquarium.org/marine-animals/aniaks-pup-has-arrived/. I’m thinking about the name ‘Miracle.’
Thanks for reading.
Nancy Cherry Eifert