• Homer the sea otter gives up the fight after 25 years
The last remaining sea otter known to have survived the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was euthanized at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium on Monday.
Homer, believed to be 25, went on to live an unusually long life after the Valdez disaster. A sea otter’s typical lifespan is 15 to 25 years.
The oil-drenched otter was named for the city in Alaska where she was found. She came to Tacoma not long after the oil spill, and was one of about three dozen sea otters that were rescued and placed in zoos and aquariums.
Lisa Triggs, a biologist who cared for Homer, remembered her as “the best otter ever,” and a “laid-back sweetheart.”
Thousands of sea otters died immediately from the 11-million gallon spill in Prince William Sound 24 years ago. Even more died in the following months. Charcoal was used to try to neutralize the oil to save Homer and others.
Last fall another sea otter survivor of the spill, 23-year-old Kenai, was euthanized at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago because of deteriorating health due to her age.
“We know Homer was the last surviving Exxon Valdez sea otter in North American zoos and aquariums,” said Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium deputy director John Houck, who went to Alaska to help rescue animals after the disaster. “It’s highly likely that she was the last sea otter on the planet to have survived that spill.”
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