Sea Otter EnrichmentOctober 11, 2017
A couple of weeks ago I went to SeaWorld San Diego’s Sea Otter Nursery to learn about sea otters from Jamie and Shirley. They work with the otters every day and plan really neat enrichment activities and always make sure the otters have different ways to learn.
Sea otters are very playful and busy so they need a lot of activities. Otter enrichment is important because it keeps them active and learning while playing all day. The otters need different things to do like playing in ice baths or figuring out how to use new toys.
While I was there I watched how the animal care specialists make treats. Otters eat squid, urchins, clams and many different things they find in the water and on land. For enrichment, they get special treats frozen in ice.
The enrichment treats are made in different shapes and sizes like cakes and tubes.
Cocoa the sea otter took the ice with treats and saved them in her pouch. I didn’t know otters have pouches like a kangaroo. Otters put things like food they find in the pouch to save for later and in the wild they hold a rock there to help break open food. Cocoa is very smart and breaks the ice on the edge of her pool to get the treats.
Sea otters are very strong and I had a lot of fun playing tug of war with Cocoa. We played with a long green fabric, then with a fire hose. Otters are so strong that a fire hose is used as a tug of war rope! Isn’t that cool?
Sometimes sea otter pups from the wild that need help are rescued and come to the Sea Otter Nursery. It’s a lot of work to take care of baby otters but it is a really great job because you get to help animals that need a second chance at life.
When you go to SeaWorld in San Diego you can watch the otters play and swim with their favorite enrichment toys at Otter Outlook. Sometimes you’ll get to see them work on opening their ice treats too.
Sea Otter Awareness Week is a really fun week to learn about otters but we should care about helping them in the wild every day.