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Orphaned sea otter pup welcomed to new home at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

An orphaned sea otter has been welcomed into its new home at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. 

Officials say that the otter was rescued off the coast of Santa Cruz County and that it will be the first "surrogate-raised" otter at their facility. 

The otter, a female pup, will potentially be released back into the wild after rehabilitation, according to aquarium officials. She is being raised in a partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Surrogacy Program. 

As such, she has been paired with an adult female sea otter at the facility who will teach the baby skills like foraging and grooming her thick fur, which is needed to survive in the wild. 

"We are thrilled to be able to further help this threatened species recover by expanding our conservation programs to now help stranded sea pups get a second chance at returning to the wild," said Brett Long, the senior director of birds and mammals at the Aquarium of the Pacific in a statement. 

Since opening in 1998, the Aquarium of the Pacific has taken in rescued sea otters that were deemed non-releasable to the wild by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. They joined Monterey's program in 2020, helping build a "behind-the-scenes" facility for surrogate mothers and orphaned pups. 

The surrogacy area is part of the Molina Animal Care Center, which can accommodate up to four rescued sea otter pups a year. The facility is kept from the public to limit the pup's human interaction in order to increase their chances of survival once they're re-released to the wild. 

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