Showing posts tagged as "joy"
“Super Mom” Sea Otter, Joy, Dies
The Aquarium is sad to announce the death of Joy, its “Super Mom” who raised a record number of stranded sea otter pups, many of which were returned to the wild, where they’re raising pups of their own.
Joy, who was 14 years old, was humanely euthanized on August 1 in the Aquarium’s Animal Health Lab, because of failing health as a result of the infirmities of age.
The precocious sea otter was a keystone of the surrogacy program of the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. During her years at the Aquarium Joy raised 16 pups – more than any other surrogate in our history. She raised three pups on exhibit, helping prepare them for life at other U.S. aquariums. Joy did all this despite several medical setbacks during her years here.
“She was a ‘super mom’ for us – easily the most prolific of all our surrogate female otters,” said Karl Mayer, animal care coordinator with the sea otter program. His team also relied on Joy to serve as a companion to adult females it rescued because of illness or injuries.
On exhibit Joy was easy to identify with her blonde head, as well as her calm and maternal way with other animals. Her favorite toy was a large red ball she would roll on top of and sink in the water to release tidbits of food hidden inside. She enjoyed roughhousing with other otters, said Chris DeAngelo, the Aquarium’s associate curator of marine mammals.
“Joy was definitely the feistiest otter,” DeAngelo said. “She was quick to let you know when you crossed a line.” Joy would show her displeasure with her caretakers by screeching loudly if she thought they weren’t feeding her quickly enough, or if she otherwise didn’t like what they were doing.”
“From a medical perspective, she’s been a real fighter through some serious problems,” said Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Mike Murray. “She has shown a cat-like tendency to survive, and must have had at least nine lives.”
Joy was found stranded on Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz in August 1998 as a five-day-old pup. She released herself during an ocean swim with an Aquarium staff member in December 1998. (At the time Aquarium staff would swim with pups to teach them foraging skills and acclimate them to the ocean. That practice has been discontinued in favor of female otters like Joy raising pups for release.)
Joy remained in the wild for nearly three years. Unfortunately, during that time, she interacted with kayakers and divers, which wasn’t safe for them or for Joy, so she was brought back to the Aquarium and became a permanent resident.
Joy was always willing to play with her exhibit mates as well as toys, which endeared her to Aquarium guests. As with all exhibit animals raised here, her name comes from John Steinbeck’s writings – in her case, a character from In Dubious Battle.
The Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program has been studying and trying to save the threatened southern sea otter since 1984 with the support of its research, exhibit and policy teams, and the backing of donors and members. To date, we’ve rescued nearly 600 ill and injured otters and returned many back to the wild. The surrogate program continues to raise and release stranded pups, and places non-releasable animals on exhibit in Monterey and at other accredited aquariums across North America.
The research team plays a key role in field studies of sea otters in California, Alaska and Russia. We also works on behalf of policies at the state and federal level that will advance the recovery of sea otter populations.
Does the wisdom of the world reside with mothers? You might think so, judging from this great photo of 13-year-old Joy, who has reared 16 sea otter pups during her time at the Aquarium!
Our Newest Otter Pup Gets an A-Plus on Exhibit
Imagine that you’re a 10-week-old sea otter pup on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. What do you do all day, while hundreds of happy faces press against the window?
Actually, your job is pretty simple, and consists of two main things: eat and grow.
Fortunately, it turns out that rescued otter number 572, who went on exhibit February 14, excels in both of these areas. He’s consuming shrimp, clams and squid, and now weighs almost 16 pounds. A small laceration—which we think came from a shark—is healing nicely.
Along the way, 572 has developed a great relationship with his companion, Joy, who happens to be an expert in all things otter pup. In her 13 years she’s helped raise 16 young sea otters, many of whom we have returned to the wild, where they’ve gone on to raise pups of their own. This grande dame of sea otter moms must be doing something right.
In addition to eating and growing, the young pup is doing some extracurricular work in the form of ice chewing and vigorously playing with enrichment toys like ice, Frisbees and balls. When he’s not jumping for joy, he’s jumping on Joy. The two like to wrestle and groom each other, which is a good practice for any sea otter, since well-groomed fur helps ensure it can withstand Monterey Bay’s chilly waters.
The pup will be with us for a while longer, but isn’t able to go back to the wild. He’ll find a permanent home later this year at another accredited public aquarium in the U.S.
Boy oh Boy! A Sea Otter Pup on Exhibit!
This fuzzy Valentine will certainly steal your heart. Say hello to a young male pup that joined our sea otter exhibit on February 14. At eight weeks old, he’s the youngest pup to date to join the exhibit. His hefty size – 15 pounds – is the result of a very healthy appetite since he came into our care at two weeks of age and weighing barely six pounds.
He was rescued on January 5 in Cayucos (San Luis Obispo County) by staff with the Marine Mammal Center. That same day, they transferred care of the pup into the capable hands of our Sea Otter Research and Conservation program as pup 572, which means he’s the 572nd sea otter to be admitted.
During the pup’s first exam we found a small laceration on his right shoulder, which suggests his mother was bitten by a white shark while this pup was on her chest. If that’s true, he’s the seventh stranded pup to come to us under similar circumstances in the past two years.
Now the pup is under the tutelage of Joy, who will teach him what a young otter needs to know. Joy’s our most experienced surrogate mother, with a brag book of 15 pups (572 is her 16th) – more than any other otter in our program.
Joy has cared for two other pups on exhibit. In 2010 she mentored pup 502 before that pup was transferred to her permanent home at Georgia Aquarium. In 2011 Joy raised pup 540 before she moved to her new home at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Washington.
Joy’s also the only available adult female to raise this pup, as her fellow surrogates and companion animals are busy behind the scenes with their own charges. We’ve received permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to prepare 572 for life in the public eye. He’s the fourth pup we’ll raise on exhibit, and the third who will eventually find a new home at another aquarium as an ambassador for wild sea otters.
For now he’ll keep his number and will eventually get a name from his new caretakers. Sea otters are intelligent animals that can understand and respond to many words and commands. Using a name helps greatly with training exercises, and it would confuse and frustrate pup 572 if we gave him one name and his new home another.
Be sure to come see him when you visit or watch him on our live Otter Cam. We’ll also post updates and images on our Facebook page. As in the past, we may move him behind the scenes with little notice if that’s in his best interests, so be sure to check if you’re planning a special trip.