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Ollie Being Ollie

Ollie the otter holding Hugh's hand - popup

Hugh's Aquarium Views Video Number 85

Ollie is the smartest and most entertainingly spontaneous sea otter I’ve ever met. I call her creative behaviors just Ollie being Ollie.

When I first met Ollie she was a recently orphaned pup that was lucky enough to find a home in Long Beach at the Aquarium of the Pacific. With no mother otter of her own to teach her how to survive, Ollie would have met a cruel fate in the wild. I was one of the first babysitters for the then tiny and fluffy pup and from the start, I could tell she was free-spirited and smart. A story I like to tell as an example to her creativeness is about the time we gave the orphan pup a few mussels on the shell for her to snack on. Later I went into the water to pick up the leftover shells. I couldn’t even find one within her nursery pool. It turns out Ollie had found a tiny opening between the nursery deck and pool that was just shell sized. She had taken the leftover shells and had tidied up her pool by dropping the mussel shells through the opening. I found all the shells lying on the ground outside her nursery. (For more on Ollie as a pup check out my past Hugh’s Aquarium Views videos on her.)

To keep such a creative mind and seemingly boundless energy occupied, we have to come up with new and fun behaviors for Ollie to do constantly. Senior mammologist Jimmy and I taught Ollie to wave to visitors watching the otter presentation on cue. I’ve seen her little “micro” wave bring guests to happy tears and smiles when Ollie shows her appreciation for folks visiting the Aquarium by waving to them. Ollie’s wave is actually an extension of a natural foraging behavior that sea otters do while exploring their environment. Ollie is so smart that it didn’t her very long to learn the behavior.

Mammalogist Erin has recently worked a number of other creative behaviors with Ollie to keep the little otter’s mind stimulated. Check them out and the micro-wave in the video below.

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