How Joey, the newborn sea otter turned a viral sensation amid the coronavirus pandemic

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Joey is an nearly 3-month-old male Canadian-born sea otter.

As of this week, he weighs about 20 kilos.

And as of this second, he's taking part in round in a tub of ice cubes, aka otter catnip.

Joey is an orphan. In July, he was found alone and crying off the coast of Kyuquot. His mom was discovered floating, lifeless, a day later.


He was taken to the Vancouver Aquarium's off-site Ocean Sensible Marine Mammal Rescue Heart, the place he at present resides.

However, one thing surprising occurred amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic: Joey has grow to be a YouTube livestream sensation.

Now, the small otter pup has hundreds of devoted viewers from throughout the globe watching his day by day routines from the numerous cameras put in within the facility, and commenting in an lively Dwell Chat.

Joey gets combed and dried by his caretakers. Grooming is an important part of his daily ritual. (Credit: Vancouver Aquarium/Ocean Wise)

Joey will get combed and dried by his caretakers. Grooming is a vital a part of his day by day ritual. (Credit score: Vancouver Aquarium/Ocean Sensible)

The rescue middle additionally posts day by day movies to their YouTube web page for many who need to see the perfect highlights, just like the basic "Joey and the Evil Towel" – a video with greater than 52,000 hits – and 509,000-view "Wiggle, wiggle, JUMP!" the place Joey tries to make a run for it whereas working with veterinarian technician Sion Cahoon.

Cahoon had labored at a small animal follow with canines and cats for 13 years earlier than turning into concerned in this system. On the day she spoke with GaHealthy, she had simply carried out an off-site sea lion disentanglement and brought a penguin to get a CT scan.

Cahoon spoke with GaHealthy whereas working with Joey on FaceTime earlier this month. She recalled the day she was contacted about Joey and the second she laid eyes on her new furry buddy. He was flying in on a seaplane close to the Vancouver Airport. At that time, he weighed simply round 3.5 kilos.

At the start, Cahoon was apprehensive about his temperature. Otters don't have any blubber to manage warmth and depend on their gentle, dense fur for insulation. Otters have roughly 1 million hair follicles per sq. inch of their fur.

She was additionally involved about his blood glucose ranges as a result of otters can grow to be hypoglycemic in a short time.

"So, that is why we've to feed them so usually — to maintain up that metabolism and hold the blood glucose up," Cahoon defined.

Joey has a employees member and a volunteer current 24 hours a day. His actions contain getting groomed, taking part in together with his many toys, consuming a clam-laced system roughly each two hours, diving into ice buckets, swimming round his turtle kiddie pool affectionately named "Sheldon," and extra not too long ago swimming and diving.

He is curious, he is very smart, and Cahoon famous that he is "demanding." He cried loudly all through many of the interview with GaHealthy.

Based on California's Monterey Bay Aquarium – which has its personal rescue program – it takes about $16,000 per yr to boost one otter.

Joey will finally must grow to be unbiased and transfer in with the opposite otters on the middle — a few of whom he is already met, although apprehensively.

Elevating wild animals – particularly rescues – could be a daunting and costly pursuit. Sadly, the Vancouver Aquarium has closed indefinitely.

Cahoon defined well being restrictions didn't enable for the aquarium to have sufficient employees on web site to boost cash like they usually do and plenty of of her co-workers have since been laid off.

"So, it has been it has been a actually exhausting time and actually unhappy occasions round right here," she admitted. "You realize, [there are] some folks [who] had been right here for a extremely, actually very long time and completely liked working on the aquarium and we needed to say goodbye to them. And... clearly, it isn't something that you simply ever need to see occur in your lifetime, however COVID has introduced that to lots of people. So, we're simply sort of coping with it as finest we are able to."


There are at present round 75 employees members on-site taking good care of greater than 70,000 animals, together with fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, monkeys, and marine mammals.

With that many to take care of and no paying guests, the Aquarium is basically counting on donations to maintain them going.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium and Chicago's Shedd Aquarium have been experiencing comparable monetary woes.

The Vancouver Aquarium hopes that donations will hold them, and otters like Joey, afloat.

Ocean Sensible's director of communications, Amber Periods, advised GaHealthy that they've obtained donations from "greater than 30 nations together with Finland, Philippines, Japan and Slovakia." The donations pop up in a ticker on Joey's stream.

Joey's recognition has had an attention-grabbing impact on his supporters and adoptive "mother and father."

A volunteer at the rescue center holds a wet baby Joey. (Credit: Vancouver Aquarium/Ocean Wise)

A volunteer on the rescue middle holds a moist child Joey. (Credit score: Vancouver Aquarium/Ocean Sensible)

One U.Ok. psychology scholar – who wished to stay partially nameless – was so impressed by Joey after watching his jellyfish toy video that she petitioned Ocean Sensible to check the affect Joey has had on the psychological well being of those that watch him ceaselessly.

The scholar, who goes by Georgina T., discovered that watching his movies made her pleased and relieved a few of her stress. She additionally uncovered that others shared these emotions and it piqued her curiosity.

She is engaged on a survey to check the constructive affect younger Joey has had on viewers throughout the globe and whether or not or not their understanding of sea otters and marine mammal conservation had modified since watching him. Thus far, she's obtained nearly 500 responses.

"Psychiatrists are actually excited about remedy, and I acquired actually excited about [the] evaluation of remedy: significantly canine-assisted remedy," she advised GaHealthy. "So, I really was actually excited by the concept [...] a sea otter might do an identical type of factor probably and be bringing constructive advantages to folks. I believed that was actually cool."

A latest report shared within the New York Put up detailed a collaborative survey by the College of Leeds and Tourism Western Australia that concluded watching movies of cute animals can considerably cut back emotions of stress and nervousness.

Nineteen individuals watched movies of Western Australia’s quokkas – a famously lovable marsupial – for half-hour. The people had their blood stress and coronary heart charges taken earlier than and after watching the animal clips, and researchers discovered each fell considerably in the middle of watching the video footage.

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Moreover, a scientific psychological evaluation discovered that nervousness ranges had been diminished on common by 35%, and in some instances by almost half, the Day by day Mail reported.

Georgina stated she thought folks had been drawn to Joey as a technique of escapism from actuality. She, herself, retains Joey on her laptop display screen always.

"And, it is clear that Joey has been serving to actually lots of of individuals," Georgina stated.

Whereas there's not but a conclusive tally of simply how a lot cash raised or what number of peoples' spirits Joey has lifted, Cahoon promised that Joey's group would attempt to hold the stream going so long as doable.

She, too, famous the "group" Joey had gathered.


"It is [...] actually touching and heartwarming to see just a little creature like this deliver collectively so many individuals from so many alternative locations," Cahoon stated. "And, I am sort of getting goosebumps simply speaking about it. However... particularly throughout these troublesome occasions the place... everyone hops on-line and might one way or the other bond and really feel near different folks by way of this loopy little creature who simply screams... I simply suppose that is so superior and I adore it."

"I am so pleased that he is in a position to deliver happiness to so many alternative folks," she added. "So, it is actually cool."

To study extra in regards to the Vancouver Aquarium, supporters can go to To symbolically undertake Joey or one other rescue affected person on the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, these can go to

Julia Musto is a reporter for GaHealthy Digital. You could find her on Twitter at @JuliaElenaMusto.

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