Sea sledding

sea sleddingIn 2007, I fell in love with sea otters on California’s central coast, where the Bewhiskered Ones float on their backs, just off-shore, wolfing down whatever fishy treat is clutched between their forepaws. In 2008, the Minnesota Zoo put sea otters on display in its new Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit, where I could see them most weeks as part of my zoo volunteer gig — bliss! They’ve been here more than a year now, but they still surprise me. I’d never seen an otter floating on a sled, for instance, until the last time I strolled past this fellow (Capers? Rocky? Jasper? They’re all males, about 3 years old, and I still haven’t learned their distinguishing features). Two of the three were play-fighting like dogs and leaping like dolphins, energized by autumn. As baby orphans, they were rescued in Alaska; now, they’re surrounded by “enrichment items” (ice chunks, crab claws, the sled, an occasional dog toy) to keep their minds curious and limber — not to mention all the restaurant-quality seafood an otter could reasonably want. If they ever miss Alaska, it’s impossible to tell.