by Chloe Rossman
The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) admitted a two-month-old sea otter pup to the Wildlife Response Program on December 12, 2020.
The female pup was found stranded on a beach in Anchor Point near a deceased adult sea otter being scavenged by a bald eagle. The adult otter is speculated to be the pup’s mother although there is no way to confirm. The pup’s close proximity to the bird of prey and her poor body condition spurred ASLC volunteers to quickly transport her to the Center after receiving U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permission.
This sea otter pup, initially weighing 11 pounds, arrived in critical condition and was covered in dirt. The team was immediately concerned that her feces contained organic debris, indicating she had been eating foliage around the beach where she stranded.
“Sea otters have a very sensitive gastrointestinal tract which can quickly become inflamed leading to a life threatening situation. In addition to fluids, we gave her medications to combat the inflammation and promote healing,” notes Dr. Elizabeth deCastro, Veterinarian.
After days of intensive care, the pup, now named Juniper, stabilized and brightened. The veterinary team continues to monitor her closely.
A male pup named Pushki, rescued in November by the Center, was identified as a perfect companion for Juniper since they are similar size and age. Pushki and Juniper were introduced as soon as their health conditions stabilized.
“The pups were initially curious about one another and vocalized back and forth for quite some time. We watched them play, swim, and groom each other, which are all behaviors that we like to see during a sea otter introduction,” states Wildlife Response Curator, Jane Belovarac.
The next step will be to introduce the duo to the Center’s third sea otter Lupine, a patient admitted to the Wildlife Response program in July 2020. Once they are all together long term, the pups’ care will not stop. Sea otter’s require 24/7 care from ASLC staff until they are about 6 months of age.
The Wildlife Response Program is able to operate largely due to donors like ConocoPhillips, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Borman Family Foundation, PetZoo, GCI, Partners4Wildlife, Sea Otter Foundation & Trust, and Grizzly Pet Products. Ongoing funding is still required to maintain important mission work at the Center.
One easy way for Alaskan’s to contribute to the mission work is through Pick.Click.Give. Alaskan residents can learn how to donate a portion of their Personal Fund Dividend here: www.pickclickgive.org/index.cfm/pfdorgs.info/Alaska-SeaLife-Center