A new sea otter exhibit, which cost more than $2.6 million, will open this Saturday at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with new interactive features for visitors and structural improvements, after six long months with no sea otter exhibit! The five female otters on display are actually “working moms” that raise adopted pups until they are old enough to release into the ocean. There are two new otters on display: Gidget, a 4-year-old from Long Beach‘s Aquarium of the Pacific and Ivy, a feisty 1-year-old. According to The Santa Cruz Sentinel:
“We call her our wild child,” <senior sea otter keeper Cecelia> Azhderian said.
Ivy was 2 weeks old when she was rescued by the aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. She is still shy around people but loves to play with toys and pick up objects.
As it was in the past, the exhibit is two floors, with visitors able to view the creatures through glass. The 55,000-gallon tank is 19 feet tall and 28 feet across, aquarium spokeswoman Karen Jeffries said.
Twenty-four new displays, in sets of three, above the viewing windows will announce to visitors which otter is in the exhibit but also play videos of behind-the-scenes work by trainers. A popular online web camera in the exhibit, which has been offline during the upgrade, will now be in high definition.
Most of the improvement will not be visible to visitors, including new steps for divers and an ice machine in a service area above the tank, so that trainers will not have to haul ice through the crowds of visitors.
“They love ice,” Azhderian said.
Part of the new displays will include videos that explain how the conservation program works. Four pups were raised by the surrogate mothers during the six months of the upgrade.
The program team has responded to every distressed sea otter along the California coast for nearly 30 years. More than 600 “ill, injured and orphaned” sea otters have been cared for by the program.
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