The sea otter rescued by the Vancouver Aquarium this October after being shot in the head and body is no longer in critical condition after seven weeks of intensive medical care.
Named Walter, the otter was found near Tofino, B.C., blinded and riddled with dozens of birdshot pellets.
Since Walter's arrival at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on Oct. 18, Dr. Martin Haulena and his veterinary team have performed multiple surgeries on shattered bones in one of his flippers.
This past week, the team performed oral surgery to treat broken teeth caused by the shotgun blast. Three of Walter’s broken teeth were extracted and a complex root canal was performed to save one of his canine teeth.
“Walter still has a long way to go, but he has made significant progress,” says Dr. Haulean. “His flexibility has improved, which means he can now groom himself much better. Having removed his broken teeth and treated his oral infection, he should feel much more comfortable.”
That said, it doesn't look like Walter will ever be released to the wild. He is still totally blind and will likely never see again.
"We will go through the process now of trying to heal him up as best we can," says Dr. Haulena. "Then the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will decide what to do with him."