Sea otter shot in head clinging to life in Vancouver
Published Tuesday, October 22, 2013 12:47PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 22, 2013 8:12PM PDT
A veterinary team is fighting to save the life of a sea otter that suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his head and body.
Staff at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre have been working nonstop to save the adult sea otter since they rescued the animal in Tofino on Oct. 18.
Martin Haulena, the aquarium’s head veterinarian, said the people who came across the animal were surprised at how friendly he was. After noticing a wound on his hind flipper, they called the organization.
The sea otter has since been transported to the rescue centre, located at Port Metro Vancouver, to receive critical care for his traumatic injuries – including wounds to his eye, face and flippers. Haulena said the wounds indicate the shooting likely took place weeks ago.
“He is in very poor shape. He’s definitely permanently blind in at least one eye and I have my doubts that we’ll be able to save the other eye,” he said Tuesday.
The otter had to have a digit amputated and is being treated for severe anemia. He also won’t be able to fully groom himself from now on, according to Haulena.
An X-ray showed dozens of pieces of buckshot lodged in the sea otter's face, paws and body, indicating the shooter used a shotgun – but it is uncertain whether the creature was fired at intentionally.
“I’m sure there are people who perceive them as competitors for different resources,” Haulena said. “I guess for me personally, the unfortunate part is he’s quite severely wounded, and suffering as a result of human activity.”
Rescue centre staff will keep treating the otter, but if he can’t recover and continues to suffer from severe pain, he may be put down, Haulena said.
“If it’s simply an animal that needs our help to have a pretty good life, then we’ll discuss other options,” he said.
Those options include housing the animal in the popular sea otter exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium until another home can be found, or keeping him there indefinitely.