Video: Baby sea otter arrives at Vancouver Aquarium
Two-month old Rialto arrived in Vancouver from Seattle, where the pup was found stranded on a beach in Washington state.
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Visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium will soon have the opportunity to meet Rialto, a two-month old sea otter pup who arrived at the facility Monday night.
Rialto was in rough shape when the pup was found stranded on the Washington beach it was named after in early August. Staff at Seattle Aquarium stabilized the pup for several weeks in preparation for its trip up north.
“He was emaciated, [in] very, very, poor body condition, obviously he hadn’t fed for some time. These guys need to feed a lot because they have a very high metabolic rate. That is particularly true when they are pups,” said Martin Haulena, Vancouver Aquarium’s head veterinarian.
When Rialto was strong enough to travel, Haulena and staff drove down to Seattle to pick it up.
“What we have here today is a pup that came over with a very uneventful, routine transfer last night from Seattle Aquarium to us and a very happy pup today,” he told reporters, Tuesday.
Vancouver Aquarium will be Rialto’s forever home. Sea otter pups are deemed “unreleasable” as soon as they are found stranded, explained Haulena.
Rialto will eventually join the aquarium’s three other rescued sea otters where visitors can see them, but not until he is ready, said the aquarium’s marine mammal curator, Brian Sheehan.
“It’s all up to Rialto, we are looking to him to give us the messages as to when to go ahead … it’s up to him when he will be introduced to the other sea otters.”
The two-month pup would be introduced to one sea otter at a time in the coming weeks.
“Our older female, Tanu, is probably the most likely candidate to meet Rialto first. She’s got some nice mothering instincts,” said Sheehan.
“We’re looking for some really positive interaction between those two in preparation for him meeting our youngest female, Katmal, who tends to be very rambunctious, playful and tends to be a little mischievous.”
Rialto has already gained some weight since arriving in Vancouver Monday and is currently on a diet of puppy formula, clams, and shrimp, according to Sheehan.
Sea otters are the most expensive animal to care for at the aquarium, with each otter costing as much as $35,000 annually, a spokesperson told Metro.
The pup was taking a nap after one of many grooming sessions when staff let reporters visit the nursery Tuesday.
Sea otters are always a fan favourite, said Haulena.
“He is of course a very interactive, very fun animal and I think its going to be our pleasure to show people who he is and what he is, and give people a bit of an opportunity to learn about sea otters.”
People can watch Rialto via the 'baby otter cam' on Vancouver Aquarium’s website.