Jan 24, 2015 11:49 AM by News Staff
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) - A sea otter impregnated in the wild has given birth at the University of California, Santa Cruz, allowing researchers a rare look at a nursing mother.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports Friday that it's the first time a sea otter pup conceived in the wild was born in captivity.
Scientists at the school's Long Marine Laboratory have been observing the baby since its birth in late November. It will be released in the wild this summer after it weans off its mother's milk.
To prevent the pup from becoming attracted to humans, researchers limit their interaction, enclosing the pool it shares with its mother behind a fence.
Southern sea otters have been listed as threatened since 1977. A count last year showed the population reached about 3,000 off California.
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