Featured Image Credit: Hugh Ryono via Aquarium of the Pacific
By Kira Krall
One of the oldest living sea otters in the world recently celebrated her 20th birthday! The Aquarium of the Pacific that Brook the sea otter calls home celebrated with special treats and a rousing round of “Happy Birthday” sung by guests in party hats. She’s regarded as the most charismatic of otters and usually spends her time in her favorite ice pile, making her a great model for guest’s photo shoots. She also gained internet fame in 2010 when she debuted as Darth Otter. Watch the video here.
June 8th, Brook’s birthday, was also World Oceans Day. The event celebrates marine conservation efforts around the world. This coincidence is especially fitting since Brook is a member of an endangered species. She was born in 1997 under a rehabilitation program and was deemed unfit for release. Brook then became an animal ambassador for her wild counterparts.
The Aquarium of the Pacific partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Monterey Bay Aquarium to serve as the hub for non-releasable sea otters. The Aquarium of the Pacific loans animals for research projects and provides trained staff to care for sea otters at other facilities.
Sea otters were hunted aggressively as pets and for their luxurious fur up until 1911 when protections went into place. The southern population has grown from 50 individuals in 1911 to just over 3,000 today.
Without special protection from the government and the work of facilities like the Aquarium of the Pacific, southern sea otters may have gone extinct well before most of us were even born.
Brook was born on June 8th, 1997, and became part of a rehabilitation program. She was deemed unfit for release and instead serves as an ambassador animal for all of her wild counterparts.