Shedd Aquarium's sea otter Cayucos dies suddenly

CHICAGO (STMW) - The Shedd Aquarium announced the death Thursday of its four-year-old rescued sea otter Cayucos.

Cayucos, a southern sea otter who arrived at the Shedd in January 2012, died of a rare and sudden abdominal condition, according to a news release from the aquarium. The underlying cause of the condition is “typically unknown and signs of initial illness are masked.”

Additional testing over the next few weeks will provide more information, according to the Shedd.

“It is a very sad day for Shedd Aquarium – we’ve lost a family member,” vice president of animal health Bill Van Bonn, DVM, said in the release.

The five-week-old otter was found stranded on the Big Sur coast in Cayucos, California in December 2011. She was taken to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, before moving to the Shedd after she was deemed unreleasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Cayucos was easily distinguished by her dark color and very social and outgoing as she loved playing with hard plastic abalone shells and green sea stars—made of the same heavy wool as the ‘kelp’ car-wash strips the otters love,” aquarium manager Lana Vanagasem said in the release.

“One of her favorite games as a pup was to pounce and bounce on various-sized buoys and buoyant balls and with her playful personality Cayucos was a beloved ambassador for species. We are devastated by her loss,” Vanagasem said.

Cayucos was the first Southern sea otter ever at the Shedd. Four other otters — Yaku, Mari, Kiana, and Luna — still remain at the aquarium.

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