Web Catch: An adorable sea otter with asthma learns to use an inhaler


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Mishka isn't like other otters.

The 1-year-old sea otter calls the Seattle Aquarium home, and she's believed to be the first of her kind with a diagnosed case of asthma.

As KING reports, Dr. Lesanna Lahner noticed abnormalities in Mishka's lungs. A radiograph detected several white areas, something that wouldn't be present in a healthy otter.

So what caused the sudden onset of asthma? There are two parts to the answer.

The primary contributor was heavy smoke from this year's wildfires in Washington state. What made Mishka particularly susceptible is a little more complicated, Dr. Lahner explained.

The state's sea otter population was hunted to extinction at the turn of the 19th century. To combat ecological impacts on the area's natural food chain, otters from Alaska were introduced in the late 1960s. The resulting lack of genetic diversity makes the otters more vulnerable to certain medical conditions.

Mishka is currently learning to use an inhaler, and it's likely she'll need it for the rest of her life. Her medicine is the same as what's used in a human inhaler.

To sweeten the deal, her trainer uses food as an incentive.

"We want to make this as fun as possible," Dr. Lahner said. "Any kind of medical behavior you're training, you want to make sure it's nice and positive."

You can watch the full video above.

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