(ANIMAL NEWS) CALIFORNIA — A baby sea otter stranded off the coast of Cayucos, California was rescued last month and taken to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, where she is currently being nursed back to health. Her caretakers are teaching the 10-week old to do the things a mother would normally teach her, like how to groom herself. Read more on Cayucos the orphaned otter, and how she is warming hearts worldwide. — Global Animal

Cayucos, the orphaned baby otter, takes a bottle from one of her new moms. Photo Credit: MSNBC News

MSNBC News, Amy DiLuna

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 TODAY.com staffers’) hearts.

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 MSNBC News: http://animaltracks.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/26/10241692-stranded-and-orphaned-baby-otter-is-nursed-back-to-health

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