Community news

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2001

BP donates vehicle to Red Cross

BP recently donated the American Red Cross Southcentral Alaska Chapter a four-wheel-drive van. The van will be stationed in Wasilla, but it will be used on the Kenai Peninsula if it is needed.

The donation also allows the chapter to allocate a 1987 Toyota station wagon to the peninsula, which increases readiness and resources.

Alaska SeaLife Center news

Baby otter arrives at center

A tiny baby sea otter nicknamed Elfin arrived at the Alaska SeaLife Center on June 16.

The abandoned otter, which weighed less than 3 pounds, was about 2 or 3 days old. He was picked up by fishers in Gull Cove near Juneau.

The center has converted a small room into a temporary sea otter nursery to care for Elfin. According to center veterinarian Dr. Pam Tuomi, the otter is small -- even for a newborn, but is eating vigorously and is stable. However, he is still considered high risk.

Young sea otters require round-the-clock care, and Elfin must be fed, bathed and groomed every two hours. Temperature regulation is difficult in a baby sea otter, as the fur needs to be kept clean with frequent dips in a saltwater bath to rinse off formula at each feeding. He then must be thoroughly dried to avoid chilling, a process that can take an hour or more.

Once dry, it is important to avoid overheating, so Elfin sleeps on a flotation bed placed inside his crib. If he continues to do well, he will begin to groom himself when he is about 2 weeks old and can be weaned onto solid food.

The center staff is assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in locating a long-term home for Elfin. The Alaska SeaLife Center does not have a sea otter habitat.

Center staff hope to find him a home where he will fit into a captive breeding management program and can be properly socialized.

While center staff always tries to return wild animals to the wild, it is not possible with young sea otters. The constant care and handling they require imprints a strong association with people.

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