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Ollie the Otter’s First Snowman

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Volunteering

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Ollie enjoys her first Holiday Treats for the Animals Day.

During last year’s Holiday Treats for the Animals event, while the rest of the otters at the Aquarium of the Pacific were playing in the snowy landscape laid out for them by the staff in the sea otter exhibit, Ollie the orphan otter pup had to be content being by herself in her holding pen in the behind the scenes area. She was too little then to be in the main exhibit. This year however was different. On this year’s Holiday Treats Day, Ollie was in the exhibit enjoying her very first snowman!

It’s become a tradition for me at the Aquarium on Saturdays during the annual Holiday Treats for the Animals festival to build a snowman in the sea otter exhibit for the critters. What I build from the imported snow is not your standard Frosty the Snowman type but instead a special snowman with a cornucopia of clam ice cubes for buttons and eyes and crab legs for arms. The snowman doesn’t usually last very long as the otters tend to bowl it over quickly to get to the food treats on it.

To give the young Ollie the best chance to experience the snowman up close this day the husbandry staff strategically laid out patches of snow topped with ice treats and crab legs to distract the older otters. I also modified my snowman building technique by building it under the skylight of the exhibit and using a crevice in the wall as a base and support for laying out the snow in the hopes that the mound of snow would be sturdier and able to survive long enough for Ollie to enjoy it. I hoped that it would last a little longer than my usual free standing snowman.

When it came time for the otters to enter the holiday landscape that we created I sat back with my camera and waited to see Ollie experience her first Holiday Treats for the Animals. Just as we hoped the older otters spread out amongst the treat filled patches of snow laid out around the exhibit leaving the snowman relatively untouched. Ollie eventually made her way to the snowman, it’s shape highlighted by the sunlight filtering down the skylight. I had my camera set to rapid fire as I fully expected the rambunctious little otter to tear apart the snowman to get to the treats on it as soon as she got to it. However, instead of quickly destroying it, Ollie treated the man of snow almost respectably.

Ollie daintily pulled a button off the snowman, sat next to it on her haunches and then munched on the clam flavored ice treat. It almost looked like the snowman was keeping the little otter company as she enjoyed her treats. Finishing the button she pulled another treat off the snowman and repeated the process of sitting next to it to munch.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Instead of quickly destroying the snowman like the other otters Ollie took her time and enjoyed herself fully. I forgot that Ollie always does things “Ollie’s Way!”

The little ball of fur never ceases to amaze me.

Ollie the Otter’s First Snowman
Ollie approaches the snowman I made for the otters for last Saturday's Holiday Treats for the Animals Day.  | Hugh Ryono
Ollie the Otter’s First Snowman
Ollie treated the treat covered snowman almost respectfully.  | Hugh Ryono
Ollie the Otter’s First Snowman
Ollie seemed to enjoy the company of the snowman while she ate her treats.  | Hugh Ryono

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