Baby Rescue Otter Can't Stop Playing with Toys Even When She's Falling Asleep

Shutterstock / Colin Seddon

For a six-week-old orphaned sea otter, life is nothing but playtime—even when you can barely keep your eyes open. This adorable fur ball was found last month on the coast of British Columbia, either orphaned or abandoned. At such a young age, the chances of survival were slim, as a baby sea otter that young requires round-the-clock care.

Undaunted, the Vancouver Marine Mammal Rescue Society stepped in to show the baby sea otter some tender loving care, and their efforts have surely paid off, because now she’s a growing girl, whose adorable appearance and endearing antics are delighting a worldwide audience on their social media page.

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Tofino, named for the town in which she was discovered, is now about six weeks old, and still requiring massive amounts of care to keep her healthy. She eats thirty percent of her body weight per day in a specialized carnivore formula, which has been modified by vets for a sea otter’s particular health needs with extra fatty oils and other compounds. As her teeth are now growing in they have begun to feed her regular otter food like clams and other seafood.

Related: Otter Asks for Cuddles in the Most Child-Like Way

But being a growing otter is tiring, and she’s growing so quickly hat her sleep needs are great. She sleeps about eleven hours a day, same as many other baby mammals, and sometimes she gets so tired she falls asleep in the middle of a play session.

The Care and Feeding of a Baby Sea Otter

They’re also regularly putting her in the baths at the rescue center so she can learn how to swim. And after every swim she must be thoroughly dried and groomed in a labor-intensive process that requires a staff member, a comb, a towel, and an industrial fan to approximate the work the otter mama would manage in the wild.

But it’s a vital process. Otter fur is the densest in the entire world and keeping baby Tofino’s coat perfect is necessary for painting her health and proper body temperature. It is estimated that baby otters cannot thermoregulate if they lose even five percent of their thick dense coats.

And don’t think that it’s all this grooming that is responsible for Tofino’s sweet smell. In truth, sea otters are the only members of the mustelids (the group of animals including weasels, minks, and even skunks) that do not have the strong scent glands associated with those animals.

Can She Be Released Into the Wild?

Unfortunately, losing her mom at such an early age all but guarantees that Tofino will not be able to be reintroduced into the wild. Rescuers can mimic her nutritional and grooming needs, but can’t provide the tutelage that Tofino needs to become an efficient hunter and forager, and know how to find safety and avoid predators like wild otters. Additionally, the intense care she is receiving from the staff at the rescue facility mean that she is habituated to human interaction, another point in the negative column for her ability to live happily in the wild.

Once the otter is grown, she will likely join other otters in similar situations at aquariums and research stations all over the Pacific coast.

But for now, she’s exploring learning how to swim, eat, and play with toys under the watchful eyes of vets and staff members.

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