No one will ever know for sure what happened to this sea otter pup prior to his being found alone on an Alaskan beach. No other otters were found nearby, so it remains a mystery as to what happened to Mojoe's mother. There was a deep laceration to his face and he had suffered a broken jaw. His little body was also severely underweight, which indicated that he had been on his own for much longer than a four-month old should without the protection of his family. His rescuers at the Alaska SeaLife Center had to imagine the rest of his story. His injuries were most likely the result of an accidental collision with a boat. Under most circumstances, this type of tragic encounter would have been the end of this little otter.
But fate seemed to intervene on Mojoe’s behalf. Several times.
First, his injuries, although dramatic-looking, did not prove to be very serious. His veterinarian sewed up the deep wound near his eye and a CT scan revealed no additional head trauma. Second, his rescue from the beach led to the quick recovery of both his health and spirit. Despite all this good news, the loss of his family and the nature of his injury did not make Mojo a good candidate for being returned to the wild. In order to survive, he would need to stay in captivity the rest of his life. Fate intervened a third time when it was determined that the Oregon Coast Aquarium had an opening in its sea otter habitat.
At first glance, Mojoe seemed like a perfect fit. The Aquarium’s all-male otter population was well-established, the largest on the west coast of the United States. The staff was very familiar with the specialized needs of the species and the expansive habitat provided a great simulation of the natural environment Mojo would have normally enjoyed.
While the little animal waited for his long plane trip from Alaska to Oregon, he began to show more of his youthful temperament. “Mojoe loves to play with his toys,” one Alaska SeaLife Center caretaker noted in his daily log. “Banging his ball against any hard surface is particularly fun!” But how would Mojo respond to the adult male sea otters who awaited him in Newport? More importantly perhaps, how would they respond to a rambunctious juvenile who seemed to always be looking for the opportunity to play?
On October 21, 2010, Mojoe’s big day finally arrived and he made the long trip from Alaska to the Aquarium on the edge of the Yaquina Bay. During the next few weeks, he was kept in isolation to assess his health needs and slowly introduce him to his future pool-mates. The Aquarium husbandry staff held their collective breath, hoping that the final introduction would be as problem-free as his medical rehabilitation. To everyone’s delight (and perhaps most of all Mojoe’s), the little pup from the Alaskan beach was readily accepted by the other otters. He quickly attached himself to Hunter, one of the senior otters on display, and the duo would delight guests with their frequent chases and wrestling matches. It is the perfect ending to Mojo’s very long journey… and a chance for him to replace the family he had lost in Alaska.
Mojoe is now on permanent display in the Aquarium’s otter exhibit. We invite you to come by and see him in action… But don’t blink – for Mojo’s both fast and seems to have limitless energy. Ah, to be young!
You can help Mojoe continue to build his life at the Oregon Coast Aquarium by considering an adoption. Animal adoptions help the Aquarium continue to provide the best possible care for our innumerable species. You can find out more by clicking here.