Brain Training for Otters at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary
Everyone knows otters are smart animals, but visitors to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary have been astonished to see its resident otters apparently making complex calculations on their own abacus!
All is not what it seems however, for Starsky and Hutch are merely entranced by the smooth sliding movement of the brightly coloured beads, and the stimulation it provides them with mirrors the manual dexterity they would have to utilse in the wild in their constant quest for food.
Notorious for being avid hunters, wild Otters are known to spend between 40-60% of their time hunting for food, so staff at the Sanctuary are keen to encourage these same instincts in captivity.
Asian Short Clawed Otters are unique as unlike other Otter species they have hand like paws instead of webbed feed which allows them to be especially dextrous in order to search for food in nooks and crannies.
“The tactile structure of the abacus requires Starsky and Hutch to manoeuvre their hands and utilize the equipment as they would natural objects in the wild when hunting for food” explained Tamara Cooper, Animal Care Supervisor at the Sanctuary.
“Starsky and Hutch also love juggling small objects such as rocks, so the beads on the abacus which move around keep them engaged for hours.”
One thing is sure; Starsky and Hutch are ‘Otterly A-mazed’ with the new addition to Otter Creek.