A baby otter that was discovered washed up alone on a remote beach at the edge of Olympic National Park in Washington State last month is getting ready to meet his new family at the Vancouver Aquarium.
When Rialto the baby otter was found without his mother on Aug. 1, he was emaciated, suffering from pneumonia and a gastrointestinal infection.
After more than six weeks of 24-hour care at the Seattle Aquarium, the pup is on his way to recovery.
On Monday, he made the trip north to his new home in Vancouver.
Head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena consulted on Rialto’s care right from the rescue. Haulena says wild sea otter pups can have low survival rates and Rialto did not stand much chance from the get-go.
The baby otter has now been deemed non-releasable because he did not get a chance to learn vital swimming, diving and foraging skills from his mother after getting stranded at just a few weeks old.
Rialto has moved into a newly equipped nursery “behind the scenes” of the otter habitat and will be slowly introduced to the other three rescued Alaskan sea otters at the aquarium: Elfin, Tanu and Katmai.
The aquarium says sea otters are the most expensive animals to care for because of their high energy needs and a varied diet.
Rialto is getting a steady diet of clam, shrimp and formula, and the costs will only increase as he gets older. To donate for Rialto’s care, go to support.vanaqua.org/Rialto.
While aquarium visitors can’t see him yet, the baby otter can be viewed live on a webcam here: www.vanaqua.org/babyottercam.