A wild sea otter chose to give birth at an aquarium and everyone’s hearts are melting

Most animals have uncanny instincts when it comes to giving birth. Think about it . . . there are no birthing classes for expectant furry critters. No What to Expect When You’re a Expecting (an Animal) books. No lamaze coaches. They just kind of do their thing and let nature take its course. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Even more amazing? A wild sea otter mom in Monterey, California, with next level maternal instincts that we can’t even believe.

Two days ago, a wild sea otter snuck her way into the Monterey Bay Aquarium‘s Great Tidal Pool. While she was there, she gave birth to a baby sea otter pup, because hey, giving birth in the actual ocean is so primitive. We don’t blame this mom one bit for seeking out a nice, safe place to bring her new baby into the world. We actually think she’s pretty genius.

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it’s not too unusual for wild otters to turn up in the Great Tidal Pool’s protected basin. But a few days ago, they noticed that one female otter in particular had been hanging out there an awful lot. On its website, the aquarium says, “It’s rare for a healthy sea otter to visit the pool so frequently — we started to wonder if she was doing all right. Well, mystery solved! Around 8:30 a.m., Aquarium staff witnessed a BRAND NEW pup resting on her belly, being furiously groomed by a proud momma. We’re talking umbilical-chord-still-attached, whoa-is-that-yep-that’s-the-placenta new-born otter pup!”

As if this story wasn’t over-the-top adorable enough already, wait until you see the baby otter, guys. The newborn is so cute that it legit looks like a stuffed toy instead of a living, breathing wild animal. TRUST.

Have you ever seen anything so precious? We’re crying right now. (And possibly heading straight to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.)  

Cuteness aside, the birth of the baby sea otter is a big deal. According to the aquarium’s website, sea otters were nearly extinct not too long ago. Hunting left only about 50 of them in the wild in the state of California. With help from legislative protection and breeding programs at places like zoos and aquariums, the species is doing much better. There are now 3,000 total wild sea otters in central California. The new little baby might make that 3,001.

If you’d like to keep up with this super smart mom and her newborn cutie, the aquarium is posting videos here.

[Images via Monterey Aquarium on Twitter.]