An ultra cute, ultra friendly baby dugong in Thailand has stolen hearts around the world and it’s not hard to see why. Her name is Marium and experts believe she’s around five-months-old.
Marium was spotted on her own near Koh Poda island off the west coast of Thailand back in April. Marine biologists believe the dugong calf became separated from her mother after getting lost. According to the Associated Press, officials tried to release Marium into a nearby dugong habitat off Ko Libong island but she swam away. So every day, vets and volunteers hop in canoes and paddle out to find Marium near the dugong habitat. She hasn’t bonded with the herd as of yet.
Once spotted, Marium follows her carers into shallower water where she gets to feast on some milk and sea grass. Feeding time is also an opportunity for the vets to give her a health check. This happens up to 15 times a day, AP reports.
Nantarika Chansue, director of the Aquatic Animal Research Centre at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Veterinarian Science, told AP that Marium likes to swim and “cling” to the underside of canoes, as if it was her mama. She also said Marium’s gotten quite attached to her human carers.
“When we are swimming she would come and tuck under our arms. It’s almost like the way she would tuck under her mother,” she said, adding that she believes Marium likes to snuggle up to anything that “looks like another dugong.”
Pictures of Marium being a big ol’ cutie pie has spread like wildfire on social media and across Thailand media. AP reports locals and tourist have since flocked to Ko Libong island to cop a look at the cherub during feeding time.
Nantarika said the average dugong stops feeding on milk around the 18-month mark and usually spends around eight years under their mum’s care.
Her human carers are hoping the bub will be able to fend for herself in a year or so. In the meantime, she’s got all the love and care she can get.