This is the Center's newest exhibit, focused on the rehabilitation of sea otter pups. Under normal circumstances, mother sea otters give their pups 24-hour care for the first six months of their lives, then stay with them for at least one year. When a pup is found stranded and confirmed that its mother isn't returning, the Center brings it in. This can be a very large logistical undertaking. Volunteers, staff, and veterinarians all coordinate vehicles, and may include expensive air travel often generously donated by Alaska Airlines, Pen Air, and local pilots.
Upon arrival, a veterinarian will give the pup a full medical exam, including blood tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, and even surgery (the Center has a complete surgical ward). The pups are normally dehydrated, and must be bottle-fed a special formula of pureed clams, squid, formula, vitamins, and antibiotics if necessary. It's important they maintain a healthy metabolism; sea otters are the only marine mammals that do not have a layer of blubber to insulate them from the frigid ocean waters. Instead they rely on the density of their fur and their metabolism to stay warm. (The fur of a sea otter is so dense - almost 1 million hairs per square inch in some places – a 4-inch patch of their fur could cover an entire German shepherd!) To stay healthy, the otters must be fed a minimum of 25 percent of their body weight each day. A full-grown sea otter could eat as much food in a day as an adult male tiger!