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Famous 'Paw-Holding' Otter Sick

Milo, (a 12-year-old sea otter at the Vancouver Aquarium) who became an Internet sensation when he was captured paw-in-paw with another otter at the aquarium, is undergoing treatment for stage-five lymphoma this week.

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He Is The First Otter In The World To Be Diagnosed With The Cancer, Which Makes Treating Him A Challenge.

Other Otters Have Had The Disease, But Vets Didn't Discover It Until After The Animals Died. Last weekend, aquarium staff noticed Milo — who became an Internet sensation when he was captured paw-in-paw with another otter at the aquarium — wasn't "acting like himself." He was lethargic, quit grooming properly and seemed weak, so they decided he needed a physical. That's when vets discovered not only were Milo's lymph nodes affected, but the cancer had spread to his spleen, liver and bone marrow as well.

How long Milo will live is "really anyone's guess"

"The immediate goal is to make sure he's as comfy as possible and whatever life he has (left) is as good as possible," Haulena said.

Staff started Milo on chemotherapy on Tuesday. Already his lymph nodes have shrunk, making it easier for him to move around.

Aquarium vets have put together a five-drug, 26-week treatment plan and sent it off to vet oncologists across Canada, the U.S. and in Austria to get "12th, 14th and 18th" opinions, Haulena said.

Aquarium staff are taking comfort in the fact that Milo was diagnosed at all.

"I'd say everyone was quite upset," Haulena said. "Obviously, everyone's attached to the animals, but especially one that's very interactive and (has character) and has been around here for a long time. We're very attached to him. A diagnosis of cancer is not what we want to hear. On the other hand . . . having a firm diagnosis and being able to come up with a plan, those things are very important."

Milo was born in a Portugal zoo and sent to the aquarium when he was young. Male otters typically live into their late teens. Female otters can live up to their early 20s.

The Video That Made Him Famous

View this video on YouTube

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