Sea Otter Cayucos Completes a Puzzle!

In this video, watch two-year-old sea otter Cayucos play and complete an enrichment puzzle game made just for Shedd Aquarium's otters! (That's sea otter Mari on the right in the beginning.) The aquarium writes:

Think of a game that’s a cross between pinball and pool, using a hollow ball stuffed with shrimp and played by a high-energy sea otter, and you’ve got the latest product dreamed up by Northwestern engineering students for Shedd. Sea otters and trainers agree—this new puzzle is a big winner.

The puzzle is a 44 x 32 x 6-inch box of thick plexiglass that fits into the window opening between the sea otter pup pool and the trainers’ area... [F]irst Lana [Vanagasem], who is manager of sea otters and penguins, grabs a blue 5-inch feeder ball—a tough hollow sphere with small holes in it, designed specifically for hard-playing aquarium and zoo animals—and pokes 11 large shrimp into it. Now she’s ready to begin the enrichment session—a half-hour of stimulating play that literally keeps the inquisitive otter on her toes...

'The goal,' says Lana, 'is for her to move it along to the end of the shelf, where it drops to the next level, then take it across and down to the bottom level where there’s a hole where she can get the ball—and the shrimp.'

Although Cayucos has played this game several times—she’s the best at it of the four sea otters—Lana notes, 'Sometimes it takes her a little while to remember. She’s just trying to get the shrimp out now. But that reinforces her to keep playing.'

Check out Shedd Aquarium's full article on the puzzle here; it's a good read!

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