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Pup and adult sea otter / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license / Mike Baird from Morro Bay, USA

Meet the sea otters adopt orphaned pups and raise them to be wild

Rosa and Selka get lots of attention in their starring roles at the public daily feedings at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, especially during Sea Otter Awareness Week.

But some of their most important work is behind the scenes, serving as foster moms to abandoned pups in the aquarium's one-of-a-kind program to rescue, nurture and return sea otter pups to the wild.

Rosa and Selka are part of a group of surrogate sea otters who can't be released back into the wild, either because of injury or inability to stay away from humans. But they still can teach these rescued pups how to be sea otters.

They show them how to eat crabs and crack open clams and mussels; they protect and guide the pups during interactions with other otters; and they allow the pups to imprint on their own species, teaching them that they are sea otters.

Sea otter Rosa swims in the sea otter exhibit.

Sea otter Rosa swims in the sea otter exhibit.

©Monterey Bay Aquarium

Neither otter has given birth, but Rosa has raised 15 pups and Selka has raised three, one of which was found abandoned at a nearby beach last year. Their most recent pups are due to be released into the wild in late October.

Since 2001, the aquarium has rescued and released some 100 sea otter pups as part of its conservation efforts around the world. They are part of the more than 876 sea otters who have been treated at the aquarium.

Read full CNN article.