Our rescued sea otter Wally sure has his share of fans, but it’s not every day that he gets a special visit from a group of birthday girls bearing a very generous gift.

Wally Bday Photo (2)

From left: Ariana Maxon, Ava Yip, Bernie Bell and Portia Nairne pooled their birthday money to give a gift to Wally, the rescued sea otter.

Last month, Wally, who was severely injured and rendered blind when he was shot two years ago near Tofino, was visited by Portia Nairne, Ariana Maxon, Bernie Bell and Ava Yip, who had all recently turned six. Although the girls were celebrating their birthdays, they decided to pool their resources and give a gift to Wally.

All four girls, who are Grade 1 students at École Pauline Johnson Elementary School in West Vancouver, had their birthdays within one week of each other, so they chose to celebrate together. They invited all the Grade 1 girls at their school to a party held on Oct. 4. Rather than receiving individual gifts, they asked their friends to make a small cash donation, with half going toward Wally’s care and half divided among the girls so they could each buy a present. All together, they raised $400 for Wally, who needs extensive and ongoing care due to his special needs.

The girls first learned about Wally last year, when their kindergarten class participated in the 365give Challenge, which encourages philanthropy through citizenship and education. One of their class projects involved studying animal rescue and the Vancouver Aquarium and raising some money for Wally. It was a story that stuck with the girls.Wally Thank You Card (2)

On Oct. 18 — the second anniversary of Wally’s rescue — they made a birthday trip to the Aquarium to deliver their gift. They began the day by learning a little bit about Wally and the other sea otters, Tanu, Katmei and Elfin, from our Marine Mammal Trainer and our manager of development, Jennifer Ferguson. The girls even got to give Wally a little bit of food! They also explored our other exhibits and took in a movie in the 4D theatre. It was a great opportunity to spend some time together to create some lasting birthday memories — and leave a lasting impact for Wally. Now that’s something we can all celebrate.

To make your own donation to Wally’s care, or any of our other rescued marine mammals, click here.

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