CHICAGO (AP) - A sea otter found abandoned in Alaska at less than 6 weeks
old in 1990 was considered the oldest sea otter living in any North American
zoo or aquarium when she was euthanized over the weekend, Shedd Aquarium
officials said Monday.
Kachemak was 23 years and 6 months, much older than the 12- to 15-year
expected life span for sea otters in the wild. She was able to provide
scientists with information about geriatric sea otters, including diet,
immune systems and blood test results.
“She was one of the most vocal animals we ever had,” said Jim Robbinett, the
aquarium’s senior vice president of external and regulatory affairs. “It was
a high-pitched scream that always warranted attention. She was looking for
food most of the time, other times it was to play.”
Kachemak was euthanized Saturday after the aquarium’s animal health team
determined they were no longer able to provide her with a comfortable enough
setting given her age.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found Kachemak stranded and orphaned on a
beach in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, on May 23, 1990. She was just 6 weeks old
when she came to Chicago. The aquarium built a special nursery for her
before she moved in with the older otters. She later lived in the aquarium’s
“She’s very fortunate to have been found because of the remote nature of the
location,” Robbinett said.
He said Shedd Aquarium got the call to take Kachemak after aquarium
scientists worked to rescue sea otters after the Exxon Valdez oil spill off
Alaska’s coast in 1989. Because she needed constant care, she was allowed to
ride in the cockpit of the plane with Shedd scientists on the flight from
Anchorage to Chicago.
The Shedd Aquarium now has four sea otters.