Thursday, May 09, 2013
The critter that pushed the envelope in otter behavior is back in Long Beach.
Charlie the Sea Otter is famous amongst zoological institutions. He was the first sea otter trained to give a voluntary blood sample. For the past couple of years Charlie was up north in a famous research facility participating in an important research project on sea otter hearing. Now that that research is concluded he has returned to his home town of Long Beach.
Charlie the Sea Otter is one of the original animals of the Aquarium of the Pacific. If any otter could be called a professional otter it would be him. This large male otter is willing to learn almost any behavior and do that behavior precisely to criteria when asked. Of course at the end of that behavior he expects a generous compensation for that effort. He practically likes plenty of clam and shrimp as payment although an occasional king crab leg would be fine also. I’ve always joked that if you offered Charlie enough clams he would learn to do just about anything.
Long-time staff and volunteers sometimes call him “Chuck” for short. It seems appropriate. Whereas Chuck Yeager was known for pushing the envelope for test pilots; “Chuck Otter” has pushed the envelope for sea otter behaviors. If offered enough clams I’d bet you that Charlie would have learned to fly and broken the sound barrier himself if asked.
You can see Charlie at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s BP Sea Otter Exhibit sometime later this month (after he’s out of routine quarantine).
Welcome back Charlie!
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