Monday, March 12, 2012

Otter who raised orphaned pups, inspired law dies

The main reason for this post was more about Otters in Sri Lanka. I know there are Otters (Diya Balla) in Sri Lanka. They are supposed to be found around lagoons and mangroves. If you talk to old timers who live near the Negombo and Rathgama/Dodanduwa Lagoons will say that Otters were quite common when they were growing up. That said, Shirmp Trap (Isso Kotu) owners detested the otters as they would enter the trap and eat the shrimp and get away.

I have yet to see an Otter (other than the ones in Otters) in Sri Lanka. Not even a photograph, even though I have lived on the banks of Negombo and Rathgama/Dodanduwa Lagoons for the last couple of years. Not even a photograph, Sad.

Does anyone have photos of Otters of Sri Lanka. Do you want to provide a link or I could post it with credit to you.

Anyway here is a good story.
The California sea otter, who died Saturday in Monterey, not only raised more than a dozen orphaned otter pups, but also inspired important legislation and changed the way scientists handle abandoned otter babies.

And she did it all while battling a chronic neurological illness.

All that changed with Toola. She arrived at the aquarium in July 2001 after someone found her floundering and pregnant on Pismo Beach. Aquarium veterinarians discovered she had toxoplasmosis, a parasite spread by cat feces and a common threat to sea otters.The pathogen had infected her brain, leaving her with frequent seizures and an almost certain death sentence. Aquarium staff were able to control her convulsions with twice-daily doses of Phenobarbital, but she would never be released back to the wild.

A month or two after arriving at the aquarium, Toola gave birth to a stillborn pup. That's when Toola's motherhood miracle happened.
Toola didn't hesitate. She nursed the orphaned p like he was her own, taught him to open clamshells with rocks, how to eat a crab without getting pinched, and other tricks of sea otter life.
That pup, raised by Toola instead of humans, was able to return to the Pacific, where he's now king of a pack at Elkhorn Slough and has fathered countless pups himself.
Toola went on to foster 12 more pups, each for five months or so. Of the 13, two are still at the aquarium, too young for release; five are cavorting around the coastline making babies of their own; and six are unaccounted for, either dead or having shaken off their tracking tags.
Toola's most recent foster child was a male whom she was cuddling as recently as Friday. Late in the day, staff noticed she was listless and refusing food, and early Saturday she died naturally at the aquarium, surrounded by staff and her otter friends. She was 15 or 16.
Complete article here.


  1. There are some otters in the Dehiwela zoo.

    1. Yes, when looking for a photograph saw this "Diya Balla" at the Zoo and dredged up memories from the last visit to the Zoo probably 25 year ago.

      Anyway so far not a photograph of a Otter in Sri Lanka's wilds.