Baby Sea Otter Orphaned in Alaska Learns to Swim in Her New Home

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Splashing, playing and getting stronger by the day, Cinder the baby sea otter is settling in nicely to her new home at SeaWorld in California

The little otter was found stranded by strong currents near Homer, Alaska, when she was just 5 weeks old. 

Baby otters typically stay with their mothers for the first six months, and moms carry pups on their bellies so they can nurse and groom them. 

If a mother otter has to dive down for food, she may wrap her baby in kelp to keep it from drifting away. 

Cinder was found alone, dehydrated and underweight, by rescuers on Aug. 18. She was transferred to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, where she learned how to drink out of a bottle and began to get stronger. 

On Sept. 7, Cinder was flown to SeaWorld in San Diego so that she could be cared for in the facility's sea otter nursery. Her human caregivers are helping Cinder learn how to swim and groom herself. 

"As soon as the pup arrived, we started a 24-hour watch with our most experienced animal care staff and our rescue team working together," said Bill Hoffman, SeaWorld San Diego's assistant curator of animal training. "The pup eats every three hours and needs constant care including grooming, cleaning and just making sure that she is meeting all those landmarks." 

So far, Cinder is thriving, he added. 

"We've seen some growth, we've seen an increase in weight and appetite, and she seems to be getting used to her new surroundings very well," Hoffman said. 

When she is a little older, she will be introduced to SeaWorld's four other female sea otters: Mocha, Coco, Clover and Pumpkin. Because she was deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when she was rescued, Cinder will continue to live at SeaWorld. 

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