Salt River Project crew members working on a road north of Mesa found a baby otter trying desperately to get itself out of a drying canal. The tiny animal was starving hungry, full of fleas and dehydrated when they found it. The baby was too small to get out of the canal on its own. Now the tiny creature is living the life in a wildlife center.

New home at a wildlife camp for the baby otter

As reported by AZ Central, Craig Boggs, Joshua Shill and Dave Massie got in touch with the Arizona Game & Fish Department, who organized for the baby otter to be taken to the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center in Phoenix.

On arrival, the baby was treated to a nutritious mash made of trout and kitten’s milk. On April 26, the baby otter was moved to the Out of Africa Wildlife Camp in Camp Verde.

Nathan Gonzalez from Arizona Game and Fish said the otter rescue was a first for them, as they had never before rescued an otter from a Salt River Project canal. He said in a news release that they believe a family of otters may be living near Granite Reef Diversion Dam and that is most likely where the pup came from. Gonzalez added that they aren't completely sure, but it is likely that the canal started to draw down and the mother left safely, but her baby was too small to follow her.

Officials don’t know if the baby otter is a girl or a boy

USA Today reports that so far the sex of the baby otter is unknown. According to a spokeswoman for the wildlife park, after research they discovered that it is not possible to determine the animal’s sex until the pup is more developed. Ashton Powell said they could discover whether it is a boy or a girl if they had an X-ray machine, and do plan to organize that, but the first priority is getting the animal back to a normal healthy state.

Powell said in the meantime they have given the animal a highly original moniker – Otter Baby.

Powell did say that at first they assumed the otter was a female and she tends to refer to the baby otter with the terms “she” and “her,” saying that Otter Baby is eating well and that she loves her stuffed animals.

Reportedly the wildlife organization is running a naming contest over the weekend to come up with a real name for Otter Baby. She said that staff members will write down a few gender-neutral ideas and put them in a hat. They will then ask members of the public to vote for their favorite.

Officials from Arizona Game and Fish say that otters were once found in Verde, Salt, Gila, Little Colorado and Colorado rivers, but they were almost completely wiped out by the early settlers. Otters reportedly reemerged in the Verde River back in the 1980s.

Readers can see the cute baby otter in the video included below.