Q: Are California sea otters endangered?
SW: Yes. The most recent population estimate was only 2,800 animals.
Q: What threats are sea otters facing?
SW: In the 18th and 19th centuries, sea otters were nearly hunted to extinction by fur traders. Today, they are threatened by oil spills, entanglement in fishing nets, and disease. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which cats shed in their feces, washes into coastal waters and enters the food chain through filter feeding animals such as clams and mussels. Sea otters become infected when they eat these clams and mussels. You can protect sea otters by disposing of used kitty litter in plastic bags, rather than flushing it.
Q: Where did SeaWorld’s otters come from?
SW: The California sea otters at SeaWorld San Diego originally stranded and were rescued as part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. Not having the necessary skills and ability to survive on their own, these otters now make their home at SeaWorld.