SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Aquarium has diagnosed a sea otter with asthma – the first case they have ever seen – and is training the animal to use an inhaler.
NBC affiliate KING reports Dr. Lesanna Lahner diagnosed the otter, named Mishka, after she was having trouble breathing when smoke from wildfires was in the Seattle area.
Mishka’s trainer uses food to teach the one-year-old to push her nose on the inhaler and take a deep breath. The medication in the otter’s inhaler is exactly the same as what humans use.
“We want to make this as fun as possible,” said Mishka’s trainer Sara Perry. “Any kind of medical behaviour that you’re training, you want to make sure it’s nice and positive.”
Lahner says reduced genetic diversity could have contributed to Mishka’s diagnosis. Sea otters went extinct in Washington and 40 years ago, Alaskan sea otters were brought south and reintroduced to the coast.
Mishka will likely have to use an inhaler for the rest of her life.
– with files from Jenny Sung