I spent minutes, actually 10 full minutes, watching two-month-old Rialto trying to get comfortable in his crib at bedtime.
Before that I spent equally as many minutes watching the the sea otter pup attempt to cuddle with a handler in his nursery at the Vancouver Aquarium. Then I watched him swim in a kiddie pool. I quite honestly, cannot get enough of Rialto.
Rialto, of course, is lucky to be alive. He arrived at the Vancouver Aquarium on Monday night. That after the pup, perhaps just three-weeks-old, was found alone on a Washington beach in August and was scooped up by the Seattle Aquarium for around-the-clock care.
“Rialto the sea otter pup was emaciated, had pneumonia and a gastrointestinal infection. Sick, and stranded without his mother, the tiny marine mammal had a poor chance of survival,” the Vancouver Aquarium explained.
The Seattle Aquarium took care of the lad, nursed him back to health and now Rialto is continuing his road to recovery north of the border.
“Wild sea otter pups can have low survival rates,” Dr. Martin Haulena, the Vancouver Aquarium’s head veterinarian, said in a statement. “This guy was really sick, so the odds were stacked against him.”
But look at him now. And, animal lovers can do just that – watch him every step of the way via Baby Otter Cam, which is the best thing on the internet.
Sadly, Rialto, who was named for the remote beach where he was found, won’t likely be released back into the wild. The Vancouver Aquarium points out in its latest blog:
“Sea otters are helpless right after birth. A mother otter carries her pup on her tummy for weeks so she can groom and feed it, and teach it to swim, dive, and forage for food. The pup will stay with her for about eight months before it has the skills to survive on its own. Because he stranded at just a few weeks old, Rialto has not learned those skills and won’t survive if released back to the wild, so U.S. officials have deemed him non-releasable.”
But Rialto won’t ever be alone.
Brian Sheehan, who is Vancouver’s curator of marine mammals, explained that he will slowly be introduced to the other otters.