Last October, a sea otter pup was discovered stranded in Morro Bay Harbor. Rescuers from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s rescue and care program estimated he was less than 2 weeks old when he was found. Since the infant pup, renamed Lincoln, was unable to be paired with a surrogate mom, he was deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. So, last December, Lincoln moved to his new home at the Oregon Zoo.
On Wednesday, the Oregon Zoo shared adorable footage of Lincoln celebrating his first birthday.
“Lincoln was found as an orphaned pup, so his birthday is a bit of an educated guess,” said marine life keeper Amy Hash. “But that makes it all the more special, because he almost didn’t make it.”
Lincoln shares his home in the Pacific Shores exhibit at the Oregon Zoo with fellow sea otters Juno and Eddie. Not only has he developed strong bonds with his otter companions, but he’s also fallen head over flippers in love with the zoo’s care staff.
“He brings a lot of fun and energy to the sea otter family,” shared Hash. “He loves to play, and he greets us every morning with his signature Lincoln squeaks.”
To make Lincoln’s first birthday as special as possible, Hash and her fellow keepers made him a cake using his favorite food, frozen shrimp. Decorated with ice letters made with red and blue food coloring, Lincoln also received two smaller heart-shaped ice cakes for sharing with Juno and Eddie, who were happy to help their buddy finish his birthday treats. Four-year-old Juno eventually dragged the big cake into the water, so she and Lincoln could celebrate together with a shellfish feast fit for a prince.
Sea otters are a keystone species that play a critical role in the Pacific Coast marine ecosystem, promoting healthy kelp forests, which in turn support thousands of organisms. Though currently protected from hunting by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, sea otters face numerous threats from oil spills, fishing nets, and infectious diseases.
Efforts by the Oregon Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and similar organizations allow animals such as Lincoln to live long and happy lives full of love. When these animals have the opportunity to thrive in a controlled environment, such as the one at the Oregon Zoo, people get to learn the importance these adorable creatures play in the wellbeing of our environment. Lincoln’s social media fame has raised awareness about how to help sea otters living in the wild.
The Oregon Zoo opens at 9:30 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit trimet.org for fare and route information.