TODAY | January 26, 2012
>>> back now at 7:48 with a touching rescue story. an infant sea otter was found stranded in california last month. she was saved and was quickly taken to chicago 's shedd aquarium . where nbc's kevin tibbles picks things up. welcome to a nursery unlike any other. where it's time for this baby to have her bottle.
>> it's me, uncle kevin .
>> this is a 10-week-old, 13-pound bouncy baby southern sea otter. the orphaned pup was found on a california beach last month.
>> you know the first few days that she lost her mom were probably very scary times.
>> the southern or california sea otter is a threatened species . with fewer than 3,000 animals left in the wild. but luckily for kaiukos, she was rescued and brought to chicago 's shedd aquarium . one of the top marine mammal facilities in the world and she seems to be adjusting just fine.
>> she is a baby. they like to play. they like to explore, they like to get into mischief.
>> but baby otters like baby humans, also need round-the-clock care. so the shedd has a dozen surrogate moms to feed her and begin to teach her how to be an otter. the shedd first started caring for otters in 1989 in the wake of the exxon valdez disaster. that's when kenai was rescued, she's now the matriarch.
>> she's 23 now and she has a nice, retired life right now.
>> but before kaiukos can hang with the grown-ups, she's got a lot to learn.
>> you want some more? good.
>> like eating solid food while floating on her back.
>> i heard that.
>> look at you.
>> watch out, those teeth are sharp. she also has to learn how to groom, and an otter's thick coat has to be maintained for their very survival. and like most kids, when she doesn't get her way, she lets you know. she is the ninth pup raised here. while she'll never be returned to the wild, she will teach scientists more about her species. and soon be delighting visitors, because like most babies, she's irresistibly cute. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago .
>>> why are we so happy seeing that? my whole brain lit up. i'm such a sucker for those stories.
>> i love those aquariums. shedd aquarium is great. a great place to take kids. what great work they're doing.
>> connecticut has a great one.