Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium Wants Your Help Naming Its Rescued Sea Otter Pups

Shedd Aquarium, YouTube
Shedd Aquarium, YouTube

Earlier this year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium found two male baby otters—just weeks old—on the coast of California with no adult sea otters in sight. Now both 5 months old, the sea otter pups are learning how to forage, dive, and groom themselves in the Regenstein Pup Nursery at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

Shedd aquarium otter pups
Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

They’re known as Pup 870 and Pup 872, but the aquarium is asking for your help in re-christening the lovable creatures with cuter names. Perhaps wary of ending up with otters named Otty McOtterface, John Cena, or something worse, the animal care staff created a short list of names to choose from, which all relate to the sea otters’ native California habitat.

The options are Cooper (after Cupertino, California), Watson (after Watsonville, California), Obi (short for San Luis Obispo, California), Bennett, or Simon (after San Miguel Island’s Point Bennett and Simonton Cove, respectively).

You can vote here as many times as you’d like between now and September 28, and the winning names will be announced the following Monday, September 30. At that point, the sea otter pups will start their gradual transition from the nursery to the Regenstein Sea Otter Habitat, where visitors will have a chance to see them.

The naming contest is part of Shedd Aquarium’s observance of Sea Otter Awareness Week this week, which aims to educate the public about otters’ role in the marine ecosystem and encourage us to protect the species.

“Sea otters are around today because enough people came together and demanded protections like the Endangered Species Act,” Peggy Sloan, Shedd’s chief animal officer, said in a press release. “The best way we can ensure the continued survival of species like sea otters is by making your voices heard with elected officials, letting them know that you oppose the weakening of any kind on protections like the ESA.”

Shedd aquarium otter pup
Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

While you’re waiting to find out which names come out on top, celebrate Sea Otter Awareness Week with some otter facts.

[h/t Shedd Aquarium]

‘Soft and Cuddly’ Venomous Puss Caterpillars Have Been Spotted in at Least 3 States

Wayne W G, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Wayne W G, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The puss caterpillar is cute, cuddly, and coming to ruin your day.

USA Today reports that the highly venomous creature, also known as the southern flannel moth caterpillar, or asp, has recently been spotted in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina. Underneath its furry coat are tiny, potent spines that break off and attach themselves to your skin, causing excruciating pain and creating a hematoma, a bruise-like wound under your skin where blood has leaked from blood vessels.

According to University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, the caterpillar is dangerous partly because the sting of those spines becomes more painful over time. “It builds for a long time in a frightening way. No one expects stings to gain in impact or discomfort, and these will,” he told USA Today. “It packs quite a wallop.”

For one victim in Dade City, Florida, even medically administered morphine didn’t alleviate her agony. “It felt like someone was drilling into my bones,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I cried and pleaded with God for hours to make it stop.”

puss caterpillar
going on going on, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

If one does happen to inch its way onto you, curb the instinct to flail about or swat at random—trying to brush off the adorable nightmare just increases the possibility of those sinister spines sticking to your skin. Instead, have someone carefully and calmly remove the insect with a twig or a 39-and-a-half-foot pole. Then, take a shower and wash your clothes to minimize further exposure to leftover spines.

As traumatizing as the experience sounds, your chances of meeting one of these fun-sized villains are hearteningly slim. Wagner explains that they’re particularly scarce above the Mason-Dixon line, and not even very common in southern states, where they’re usually spotted.

In short, this is just another scientific reason why you should stick to petting dogs.

[h/t USA Today]

8 Adorable Products You Can Buy for International Sloth Day

Good Luck Socks/Intelex via Amazon
Good Luck Socks/Intelex via Amazon

It’s that time of the year again, folks—the time when we all collectively lose our chill over a slow-moving, two- or three-toed mammal with an adorable squeak and poop that defies physics. That’s right: International Sloth Day is coming on October 20. Here’s a list of must-have coloring books, onesies, and Christmas sweaters that you can pick up to showcase your love of one of the internet's favorite animals.

1. Cuddly Microwaveable Sloth; $23

Microwavable sloth for International Sloth Day.
Intelex/Amazon

Warm your heart and your body with a plush sloth that doubles as a soothing heating pad. The toy is filled with millet grains and dried French lavender, a combination intended to help you get to sleep easier.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hanging Ceramic Sloth Planter; $19

FattyBee Ceramic Sloth Planter.
FattyBee/Amazon

This flower planter pulls double duty, communicating both your love of sloths and your appreciation for plants. And it makes a tasteful piece of hanging home decor, too.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sloth Coloring Book; $7

Sloth Coloring Book on Amazon.
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform/Amazon

Sloths themselves are already works of art, but you’d be forgiven for wanting a few more sloth-related crafts in your life. Now you can make your own masterpiece with this detailed coloring book. All you'll need are some colored pencils and you'll be ready to go.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Farting Sloth Coloring Book; $7

Sloth Farts Coloring Book on Amazon.
M & L Coloring Books/Amazon

But maybe traditional coloring books aren’t your thing. You’re in luck: Amazon sells a coloring book for the crowd that both loves sloths and laughs a little too much at farts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Sloth Socks; $14

Sloth Socks on Amazon.
Good Luck Socks/Amazon

These socks are ideal for people who might not want to wear their love of sloths out in the open but are very comfortable showing it off on their ankles.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Sloth Onesie; $60

Tipsy Elves Sloth Onesie on Amazon.
Tipsy Elves/Amazon

No list of sloth-related products would be complete without a cozy onesie, and this one from Tipsy Elves is perfect for either pajamas or a last-minute Halloween costume. This onesie even comes with zippered pockets and cuddly sloth claws!

Buy it: Amazon

7. Sloth-Themed Ugly Christmas Sweater; $45


Tipsy Elves/Amazon

Why not celebrate the upcoming holiday season with this sloth-themed ugly Christmas sweater? You’re sure to be the hit of any holiday pub crawl or office Christmas party.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Sloth Mug; $13


Mika Mugs/Amazon

Really, what says it better than this mug? You just really freaking love sloths, and there’s nothing wrong with that, so be sure to declare your feelings along with your morning cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

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