Otters are playful and adorable. Or so states the human, who has pictures of these creatures playing and I suppose being cute. Have you ever wanted to touch one? This is not something one gets the opportunity to do everyday.
The Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park in Japan has a special exhibit set up for their otters called “Otter Finger Touch, Fish Catch.” Visitors pay 500 yen, or $5, to offer a fish at special holes in the glass enclosure to lure an otter to put a paw through to possibly touch your finger and to definitely get a fish.
The exhibit opened July 13, 2014, and only runs until September 13, 2014, so if interested you need to act quickly. Visitors are encouraged to make a reservation in order to guarantee an opportunity to try for an otter hand shake. The exhibit is open for all those who enter the park to see the otters, but the touch experience has a morning and evening session with a max of 10 people. I am not sure if it is 10 each session or ten total for the day. Of course, you need to be in Japan or able to travel there for this experience.
Some species of otters can be vicious, people are attacked by them, so I would not advocate just trying to offer fish to wild otters. The otters in the exhibit are Asian Small Clawed Otters, the smallest species, who have little finger like toes with small claws unlike the webbed feet of the larger North American River Otter. Asian Small Clawed Otters are a vulnerable species due to habitat loss, and are now extinct in some areas which used to have large populations. You can of course see this type of otter in the US at places like Seaworld and the San Diego Zoo, but no other place offers finger touches.
These orphaned baby dormice were rescued in 2012 and taken to rescue facility over a hundred miles away by a person in England.
Dormice are an endangered species, and these six babies were lucky enough to be found by someone who knew about them. The facility they were taken to is called Secret World, a facility that specializes in rescuing and rehabilitation of British wildlife.
These photos of the babies playing on Thistle are simply adorable:
At Busch Gardens in Florida zookeepers embarked on a strange journey. They had a new 8 month old male Cheetah cub (now named Kasi), but no other cheetah cubs. For the animal to have a companion they introduced the cub to a puppy, a 16 week old rescued lab mix (now named Mtani). The animals developed a friendship, learning how to communicate together. At first they spent only supervised time together, and now they live and travel together all the time.
Now that they are older, Busch Garden uses them to help educated the public about Cheetahs, rescuing exotic animals, and the importance of rescuing domestic animals like Mtani. The two can be seen on display in their enclosure at the Cheetah Run. They do actually run the cheetahs (and Mtani) using a lure system that pulls a lure along the ground on a line. If you visit make sure to find out what time the Cheetahs will run because it is something to see!
A video of them on their first year anniversary, explaining the relationship and showing off their running skills:
Do animals have the capacity for friendship? I never really thought otherwise until I realized most biologists studying animals have only recently considered the idea worth studying. Of course, animals do not communicate or express emotions the same way people do. Even if it were flawlessly possible to prove what an animal is thinking or “emoting” it would not always be for the same reasons we do. That does not make what they experience any less, only different. But if you have ever owned an animal you can see each has their own personality and seems to display love, affection, or “friendship.”
A human animal relationship in and of itself is already an inter-species relationship that demonstrates the ability of an animal to bond with a creature not like itself. Inter-species friendships are especially interesting because I think it does point to the ability or desire of an animal to be with others, even if not the same species. Most often these relationships occur when humans have intervened – at animal preserves, zoos, or even in your own home (dogs and rabbits for example). Yes, we placed the animals in those situations but they could just as easily decide to not remain in a relationship (your dog eating your pet rabbit for example). These relationships might occur less frequently in nature because they would be hard to find and observe, and because it is probably much more rare for an animal to not have another of its own kind to bond with.
The cub is not much to see at the moment because Panda cubs are the one of the smallest births to occur among mammals. Babies are only about 1/900th the size of their mothers, only marsupials give birth to smaller young. Panda cubs are unable to move on their own and are completely dependent on their mom for warmth, food, and protection.
Mei Xiang has been more protective of the cub in the past few days and has not allowed the vet staff to take the cub from her for an exam. Keepers say the baby sounds healthy and they are continually observing the pair on the panda cams.