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UK first following arrival of orphaned sea otters

The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham has officially welcomed a pair of sea otters as part of a global education and conservation programme with SEA LIFE Trust.

In a first for the UK, the rescued sea otters – a male and female named Ola and Ozzy – arrived following a 5,000 mile journey from Alaska last month. The pair have been settling in to their new, state-of-the-art and purpose-built Marine Mammal Rescue Facility in Birmingham, with their residency one of just three in Europe and 17 worldwide.

Sea otters were once on the verge of extinction after being hunted for their thick, rich pelt and remain a seriously threatened species and IUCN listed as endangered.

 Two-year-old Ozzy was rescued when he was just two months old from Bishops Beach, Alaska weighing 6.3kgs (13.9 pounds). He was underweight, dehydrated and suffering from coat issues, but has made a full recovery following his rehabilitation. 

Ola was less than a week old when she was rescued by fishermen near Ranney Glacier in June 2018. Weighing just 1.86kgs (4 pounds), Ola was suffering from mild dehydration and a matted fur coat and admitted to the Alaskan Rescue Center. 

The two orphaned sea otters cannot be released back into the wild, and so following a lengthy guardianship application,  the United States Fishing & Wildlife Service (USFWS) finally granted Birmingham’s SEA LIFE Centre a permit to rehome the pair.

Jonny Rudd, Curator at the National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham said: “This is such an incredibly exciting time for us. It’s been a pioneering project for the country, taking global efforts and a collective vision with our conservation partners to protect the world’s oceans and the incredible marine life which lives within.

 “Sadly, an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality can have detrimental consequences to our planet, but this is now our opportunity to open up the reality of a world which feels very far removed from our own. Ozzy and Ola’s residency is a landmark moment for the country and gives us a sense of connection to nature and wildlife from across the globe, highlighting the unconscious impact we’re having so we can start to make small differences. 

“It’s a guardianship commitment with full 360 vision, meaning that monies raised through the Sea Otters residency in Birmingham will have a direct and positive impact to environmental efforts on the ground in Alaska through our partners, SEA LIFE Trust.”

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