February 5, 2013
In January Gidget the southern sea otter was transported to Monterey, California, to become a surrogate mother to orphaned sea otters. She lived at the Aquarium for just over four years.
Gidget will help raise orphaned sea otter pups at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Rescue and Conservation center (SORAC). She was identified as the most appropriate candidate for this role from all of the female southern sea otters in U.S. aquariums.
Gidget was rescued by wildlife officials at ten to twelve weeks old, separated from her mother on a beach near Cayucos, California. She was too advanced to be matched with one of SORAC’s surrogate mothers.
When she arrived at the Aquarium in October 2008, caring for Gidget was an around-the-clock job. She weighed only six pounds. Because she was so small, she was bottle- and hand-fed. She ate every three to four hours and had to be hand-groomed after each feeding. The Aquarium’s husbandry staff members brushed her with a dog brush until she learned how to groom her coat herself.
Gidget gained notoriety on the Aquarium’s website as “The Furball,” a name bestowed upon her by husbandry volunteer and blogger Hugh Ryono, who helped raise the otter when she first arrived. Ryono summarized his years-long relationship with Gidget in a recent blog entry.
Gidget was originally named Maggie when she came to the Aquarium. Later, another otter named Maggie joined the Aquarium’s collection. Because this otter was older and more accustomed to her name, Gidget was renamed.
The Aquarium is slated to receive another young female otter to take Gidget’s place in the sea otter exhibit.