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Kiana the sea otter dies after 16 years at the Shedd Aquarium and was rescued as an orphan otter in Alaska


CHICAGO (WLS) – Kiana, the 16-year-old northern sea otter Shedd Aquarium helped save as an orphaned puppy off the coast of Alaska, has died nearly a year after being diagnosed lymphoma. She was the focus of the first episode of “An Ocean on the Lake,” the new behind-the-scenes multi-part series produced in partnership between ABC 7 and Shedd.

One of Shedd’s most beloved animals, Kiana was well known for the white fur coat she developed in old age, as well as her calm demeanor and love of ice cubes. From the moment Kiana first arrived in Shedd, her primary caretaker was Christy Sterling.

“Just a year after I started volunteering (at Shedd), I got a call informing me that they had had an orphan otter puppy,” Sterling said, before Kiana passed away. “It was 16 years ago.

Sterling bottle-fed Kiana as a baby otter and watched her grow old, before leading the otter care team after being diagnosed with cancer in mid-2020.

Dr Karisa Tang was the staff veterinarian who directed Kiana’s care after her diagnosis. Tang worked with a veterinary oncologist at the Veterinary Specialty Center in suburban Buffalo Grove.

Tang said the individualized care plan aimed to give Kiana “as few treatments as possible” to reduce her time away from other otters and minimize the number of chemotherapy treatments.

Kiana’s treatment was very gentle and worked to help keep her comfortable, rather than a lifesaving measure. She died on June 16, several weeks after her last course of chemotherapy.

Learn more about Kiana’s story by watching Episode 1 of “An Ocean on the Lake”.

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