MONTEREY, California (AP) -- There's another reason to rejoice this holiday season: the birth of a baby sea otter at a California aquarium.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium posted news of the birth online this weekend, along with adorable photos of the fuzzy brown pup playing with mom.
For several days, the adult otter had been taking shelter in the aquarium's open-ocean tide pool, perhaps seeking a respite from the weekend's wintry storms. Staffers were worried because healthy otters don't visit the pool that often.
The mystery was solved Sunday, when staff noticed a newborn on the sea otter's belly, umbilical cord still attached.
The aquarium says sea otters were once hunted to near extinction. The otter population has bounced back to steady levels in Monterey Bay, with roughly 3,000 in central California.