Stranded and orphaned, baby otter is nursed back to health

Jan. 26, 2012 at 8:33 AM ET

Did you hear that collective "Awwwww" on Thursday? If you tuned into TODAY, you got an eyeful of a story that's otter-this-world cute.

Last month, an infant Southern sea otter was found stranded near Cayucos, Calif. The orphaned pup was rescued and transported to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago where she is now being raised in a nursery with not one – but a dozen human "moms."

Those surrogate parents are teaching the 10-week-old otter, named Cayucos, how to be, well, an otter. That includes grooming her thick coat and feeding herself while floating on her back. 

"Those first few days when she lost her mom were probably very scary times," said one of her caretakers. Consider our heartstrings TUGGED.

Cayucos brought the cute in a big way on TODAY, squeaking and swimming her way into viewers' (and staffers') hearts. 


I mean. Does it get cuter than this??


Immediately after the segment aired, TODAY's Twitter was hopping with otter-loving messages: "Ready to lose a man card, but that otter is awesome!" tweeted Curtis Willis (@willic01). 

"That baby otter story tipped the cute scales! way to go Shedd Aquarium!" tweeted Kellie Marshall (@kmitrix).

We have to apologize to Nicole Cavaliere (@nicolecav1), who had a rough morning: "Does the today show HAVE to play a clip about an orphaned otter after i put on mascara? #sob." 

And looks like Kevin Ryan's in for a challenge: "My girlfriend now wants to install a pool in our living room so she can keep an otter as a pet," he wrote on Facebook.

More unbearably cute things in Animal Tracks:

Cutest thing TODAY: Porcupine snacks on sweet potato

Penguins or seals? Vote on which is cuter!

Orphaned polar bear cub shows off antics on TODAY 

Amy DiLuna, senior editor, understands that she can't have a baby sea otter of her own, but that doesn't mean she's happy about it.