Photos: Orphaned Otter Pup Gets Pampered in Chicago Aquarium

Abandoned on a beach in California, an adorable otter pup now has a new home at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. For now, the otter is simply called "Pup 681." She's getting 24-hour attention so that her caretakers can essentially teach her how to be an otter. 

"Pup 681's situation was urgent," Tim Binder, vice president of animal collections for Shedd, said in a statement. A citizen taking an evening stroll on Sept. 30 at Coastways Beach between the San Mateo and Santa Cruz county line in California heard the newborn otter's cry and notified the Marine Mammal Center, a nonprofit that rescues creatures in need like otters, whales and seals. (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

When wildlife officials went to the beach the next day, they determined that the week-old pup was orphaned. She was then recovered and transported to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

"On arrival at Monterey Bay Aquarium, 681 weighed 1.0 kilograms (2.2 lbs.), which is tiny for a newborn sea otter, and she had been separated from mom for at least 16 hours," Karl Mayer, animal care coordinator for the Monterey Bay Aquarium's sea otter program. "This meant it was critical that we begin to get calories into her as quickly as possible." (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

After the pup's health stabilized, she was sent to her permanent home at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium last Tuesday (Oct. 28). At the time of her arrival, she weighed 6 lbs. (2.7 kg). (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

Officials at the aquarium say the pup is hitting milestones like taking formula from a bottle and eating solid foods. (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

She'll need continued care to learn how to groom herself, forage and regulate her body temperature. (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

Southern sea otters are listed as "threatened" on the U.S. Endangered Species List. According to a recent count from the U.S. Geological Survey, the population of southern sea otters is about 2,944. (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

Pup 681 will eventually have some other otters to play with. The Abbott Oceanarium at Shedd is home to another southern sea otter and three northern sea otters. (Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

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Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.