A baby mammal is saying hello from the otter side of recovery after being orphaned at just a few weeks old, unable to fend for herself in the rough waters of Alaska.
Cinder the Otter was found amid a strong current, stuck against some rocks near Homer, Alaska, in mid-August, according to SeaWorld San Diego.
The otter pup weighed a measly five pounds, and her parents were nowhere to be found.
Cinder was carefully taken in by the Homer Vet Clinic who transferred her to the Alaska SeaLife Center. The pup’s condition became stable in early September, and she was flown to SeaWorld San Diego to make a new life for herself.
Over the following two months, Cinder grew stronger, weighing now a hefty 20 pounds, and graduated from her shallow nursery pool to a bigger home, SeaWorld San Diego said.
“She is reaching lots of milestones – her weight is increasing as it should,” said SeaWorld San Diego animal care specialist Stephanie Rosas-Crespi.
Cinder began eating more solid foods, like clams, shrimp, and squid, which Rosas-Crespi said was a step – or paw – in the right direction.
“One of the things that we’re really proud of is that she’s starting to peel her own shrimp, just like a big otter,” Rosas-Crespi said.
Otters typically eat up to 25 percent of their own body weight every day, and Cinder is right on track, SeaWorld San Diego said.
The growing pup also completely shed her baby fur during her stay at SeaWorld San Diego.
“She was completely dependent upon us, initially. Now, she is definitely becoming a more independent, individual otter.”
Cinder can now dive 10 feet to the bottom of her pool – showing off her improved swimming skills in the behind-the-scenes area at the Otter Outlook exhibit.
SeaWorld San Diego anticipates that Cinder will soon be able to join the other female otters at the aquarium, including Mocha, Coco, Clover and Pumpkin.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed Cinder “non-releasable.”