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Shedd Aquarium Sea Otter (An Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Survivor) Passes

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 10, 2012 8:50PM

Kenai was one of two remaining sea otters who survived the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. (Photo credit: John G. Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

Sad news from the Shedd Aquarium today where veterinarians euthanized Kenai, who was one of two surviving sea otters from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Kenai was only a pup when the Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, killing nearly 2,000 sea otters immediately. Otters rely on their fur to stay warm and and it's hard for one to maintain its body temperature when its fur is soaked in crude. Shedd Aquarium took in four sea otter pups in 1989, including Kenai, and they stayed at the aquarium because they lacked the skills to survive in the wild.

Kenai lived to the age of 23; typically sea otters live to 15-18 years of age. Jim Robinett, the aquarium’s senior vice president of external and regulatory affairs, said Kenai provided joy for employees and guests at the Shedd and extensive research into veterinary medicine.

"As she grew older, Kenai became a testament to the emerging field of geriatric veterinary medicine as Shedd’s animal health experts cared for her,” said Robinett.