Toola, a renowned sea otter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, recently ended an 11-year career in which she raised 13 orphaned otter pups and inspired a law to help her wild relatives.
After she had been found in the wild, stranded and suffering from a parasitic brain infection spread by cat feces, she began regular treatments at the aquarium for seizures and was likely never to return to her native waters.
But just when things seemed darkest for Toola, an orphaned sea otter pup had arrived at the aquarium. Toola soon became the first otter ever to serve as a surrogate mother for a stranded pup, teaching it valuable sea-otter skills like dissecting crabs and opening clamshells with rocks.
(READ the tribute by Russell McLendon in MNN.com)