The Vancouver Aquarium has an adorable new resident.
The sea otter pup, named Joey, already captured hearts around the world after he was discovered on a beach in Kyuquot, B.C. in July, approximately 10 days old and near a deceased adult sea otter, presumed to be his mother. He was transported to Vancouver's Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, where he has been receiving round-the-clock care over the past few weeks in the hopes that he could be reintroduced to the wild.
While the otter pup is now "stabilized and stronger," following weeks of intensive rehabilitation, he has been deemed non-releasable. "Joey’s young age and inability to survive on his own were part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s evaluation and eventual decision regarding his options after rehabilitation," the Aquarium explained in a release.
The good news? That means Joey will receive long-term care among six other rescued sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Because sea otter pups are typically "incredibly dependent" on their mothers in their first six months, “We’ve had to begin teaching Joey all of his essential sea otter life skills,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre in the release.
“Everything from learning to groom himself, to swimming and feeding—these are all things mom would normally have taught him in the wild and Joey didn’t have that opportunity.”
While Joey's fans have been able to keep up with his progress thanks to a livestream "Joey-cam," Vancouver Aquarium visitors will now be able to watch Joey’s rehabilitation journey, now taking place in his newly built nursery, in person. According to the Aquarium, "Lucky visitors may catch glimpses of Joey’s bath and feeding times with his care team between his many naps."
A team of the Aquarium's animal care experts will now continue to help Joey along his rehabilitation journey, monitoring his progress over the next few months.
“Now that he’s a bit stronger and a tad more independent we’re excited to watch his progress as he masters all these skills. We’ll be introducing new foods, monitoring his weight gain and eventually we hope to introduce him to the other rescued otters at the Vancouver Aquarium so he can continue to learn from them as well,” said Mackenzie Neale, director of animal care in the release.
Those interesting in contributing to Joey's care can ‘adopt’ the young otter or alternatively, can donate to the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Donations will help support the rescue of approximately 150 marine animals each year.
According to the Aquarium, Canada's sea otter population was once hunted to extinction for their thick fur, before sea otters were re-introduced to British Columbia in the 1970s. Although the species' populations are growing, they are still considered to be of ‘special concern’.