SeaWorld Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Sea Otter Awareness Week and Welcomes Rescued Southern Sea Otter ‘Abby' Back to SeaWorld San Diego

  • Abby takes up permanent residence at SeaWorld San Diego after retiring from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Surrogacy Program where she successfully raised five orphaned pups
  • Abby previously resided at SeaWorld San Diego after she was stranded and rescued in 2007 as a three-day old pup
  • Guests can visit Abby and five other rescued southern sea otters at SeaWorld San Diego’s Otter Outlook


    SAN DIEGO, CA (September 22, 2022) – SeaWorld San Diego proudly celebrates the 20th anniversary of Sea Otter Awareness Week by welcoming back home Abby, a 15-year-old rescued southern sea otter, after her retirement from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Surrogacy Program. During her time as a surrogate, she successfully raised five orphaned pups. Abby will join five other rescued southern sea otters at SeaWorld’s Otter Outlook, including Mocha and Coco, who she previously lived with when she was a young, rescued pup.

    “Sea Otter Awareness Week allows us to recognize sea otters for their importance to the health of coastal ecosystems, their recovery from near extinction, and the threats they currently face,” said Eric Otjen, Vice President of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld San Diego. “It’s important to raise awareness of just how critical sea otters are to shaping and maintaining the ecosystems of the California coast and why efforts to recover the species are so vital.”

    California's southern sea otter is a keystone species that has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. California’s southern sea otter population were once hunted to near extinction during the maritime fur trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Worldwide, sea otters have slowly recovered but still stand far below their historical population numbers. Today, there are approximately 3,000 southern sea otters in existence. Returning sea otters to areas they inhabited before the fur trade can help ensure their long-term survival and provide extensive benefits to California’s coastal ecosystems.

    Sea Otter Surrogacy is a Vital Part of Saving the Lives of This Threatened Species

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Surrogacy Program is a unique approach to rescuing, rearing and returning sea otter pups to the wild. More than 60 surrogate-reared pups have been released from the program since 2001.  In Elkhorn Slough, a national estuarine research reserve, scientists estimate that released surrogate-raised otters and their wild offspring account for more than half of the sea otter population growth in this small estuary over the past 15 years.

    Abby’s Journey from Orphan to Surrogate Mom

    Abby, a three-day-old infant sea otter, was rescued in July of 2007 after she was found stranded on Jalama State Beach in northern Santa Barbara County. She was rescued by the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center and transported to SeaWorld San Diego for rehabilitation. SeaWorld animal care experts successfully hand-raised Abby with another female sea otter pup, Ellie, who arrived a few months after Abby.

    Starting at age 3, SeaWorld animal care experts noticed Abby displaying maternal behaviors towards her younger companions. Understanding that Monterey Bay Aquarium had a need for a surrogate sea otter mom for their Sea Otter Surrogacy Program, both accredited zoos partnered together to give Abby a chance to put her maternal skills to work.

    In June 2012, Abby moved to Monterey Bay Aquarium. Just like the other sea otter residents, Abby learned training behaviors, live food-handling skills, and acted as a companion to various rescued sea otters as part of their rehabilitation processes. As a surrogate mother, Abby helped successfully raise five healthy pups, where she taught pups critical life skills they need to survive in the wild, like how to groom their fur and how to forage. Abby retired from the surrogacy program in 2019.

    Guests can visit Abby and the other five southern sea otters—Mocha, Coco, Nova, Clover and Pumpkin—at SeaWorld San Diego’s Otter Outlook and view their curious and playful behaviors. SeaWorld San Diego offers educational trainer talks daily where guests can hear from animal care specialists about day-to-day care, habits and interactions with the otters, while also sharing exciting facts about each otter’s personality and story.

    About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

    SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter, and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The Company is one of the world's foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The Company collectively cares for one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The Company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 40,000 animals in need over the last 55 years. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens®, Aquatica®, Sesame Place® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 55-year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The Company's theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

    About Monterey Bay Aquarium

    With a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the most admired aquarium in the United States, a leader in science education, and a voice for ocean conservation through comprehensive programs in marine science and public policy. Everything we do works in concert to protect the future of our blue planet. More information at


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