The FILLER

Shedd Aquarium helps rescue orphaned baby otter

Meet Pup 681, a southern sea otter pup who was found all alone and crying on a California beach. After weeks of intensive care, the 5-week-old otter seems to be enjoying her new home at the Shedd Aquarium.

The pup was discovered on Coastways Beach in central California on Sept. 30, when she was believed to be 1 week old, according to a media release. A jogger heard the pup crying and notified the Marine Mammal Center.

Pup 681 was taken to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who gave her the numerical name.

The aquarium is in the process of picking several possible names, publicist Nicole Minadeo told RedEye in an email.

"Shedd has a history of naming the animals we help rescue affiliated with the locations of which they were found," she said, adding that later this month members of the aquarium and the public will have a chance to vote on a name.

Karl Meyer, an animal care coordinator for the Sea Otter Program, said the pup weighed 1 kilogram when she arrived at the aquarium in California, which is seriously underweight for a newborn. He said the pup's mother had abandoned her for at least 16 hours.

"This meant it was critical that we begin to get calories into her as quickly as possible," Meyer said in a media release.

After four weeks of intensive care and stabilization in the Sea Otter Program, Monterey Bay Aquarium reached out to aquariums across the country seeking a facility that could provide round-the-clock care for the pup.

Shedd volunteered, and last week it brought in the 5-week-old. The aquarium said she arrived weighing just less than 6 pounds and at a length of 22.6 inches.

Tim Binder, the aquarium's vice president of animal collections, said a team of animal care experts watches the pup 24 hours a day to make sure she eats, grooms and sleeps.

"It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter," Binder said. "Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter."

The pup swims in her own pool, splashing with long strands of felt normally used in carwashes that are intended to replicate kelp. She also chews on plastic key rings and other toys because she is teething, her trainers said.

The pup's caretakers said she is learning to feed and bathe herself. She currently takes in a diet of instant formula in a bottle and sliced clam pieces.

The pup will stay at Shedd indefinitely and eventually will join four other otters in the Regenstein Sea Otter habitat.

RedEye's Mick Swasko (@swasko) and Tribune's Dana Ferguson contributed.

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