Charlie, the oldest southern sea otter dies at 22

Otter, Sea Otter, NewsOnPets

Charlie, the 22-year-old sea otter, who is known to be the oldest southern sea otter at any zoo or aquarium died last Monday, April 23 at the waterfront aquarium in Long Beach, California. The tiny mammal was in the spotlight in the 2018 Guinness Book of World Records. He appeared in the section on senior animals, CNN reports.

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It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that our sea otter Charlie passed away this morning. Charlie turned twenty-two years old on March 2 and was the oldest living southern sea otter at any zoo or aquarium. Known for his intelligence and easy-going disposition, Charlie could often be seen sucking his paw while relaxing on exhibit. In addition to his role as an animal ambassador living at the Aquarium, Charlie also contributed to scientific research. He was the first otter in the world to give a voluntary blood sample without sedation. And from 2011 to 2013 he participated in a study of how sea otters perceive sound at the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab. The study’s results could inform decisions made by government agencies regarding ocean noise. Charlie was selected for the study in part because of the behavioral training he had received at the Aquarium. To participate, Charlie learned to enter a specialized acoustic testing environment, listen for sound signals, and respond to the researchers, notifying them whether or not he had heard the sound by touching his nose to a target or remaining still. On Sunday, April 28, Charlie’s fans and supporters are welcome to fill out a card at the Aquarium in his memory that will hang from the railing at the Sea Otter Habitat all day. To learn more about Charlie, please visit https://pacific.to/aopcharlie

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A 22-year-old Otter

Charlie, the sea otter survived the El Niño storms in 1997 and knowing that this tiny little animal wouldn’t be able to survive on his own, animal experts took him into the aquarium where he survived for 22 years, more than his expected years of living. Generally, sea otters do not live for more than 10-14 years in the wild and 20 years in a water body, however, this mammal crossed his own life expectancy.

“Known for his intelligence and easy-going disposition, Charlie could often be seen sucking his paw while relaxing on exhibit. He is the first otter in the world to give a voluntary blood sample without any sedation. Charlie was both brains and beauty, and the aquarium highlighted his significant contributions to scientific research,” the aquarium officials told CNN. “Charlie also participated in a study at the University of California and the Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab of how sea otters perceive sound, the aquarium said, which could inform government decisions on ocean noise. Charlie was selected for the study in part because of the behavioural training he had received at the Aquarium. To participate, Charlie learned to enter a specialized acoustic testing environment, listen for sound signals, and respond to the researchers, notifying them whether or not he had heard the sound by touching his nose to a target or remaining still,” the aquarium officials added while reporting to CNN.

A Popular Pet in Asia

These tiny smelly, loud and extremely active otters have now become an exclusive exotic pet in Asia. The tiny pups have strong and sharp jaws and teeth which can even break open a shellfish states New York Times. These otters, now considered to be pets are increasing in numbers at places like Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Many cafes and pet shops sell otters to anyone interested in taking one home. “We’re seeing a rapid increase in demand as the popularity of keeping otters as pets keep growing but the supply isn’t catching up,” a cafe attendant told New York Times.

Otters are trafficked

In many places within Japan, otters are poached from the wild to be kept or sold as pets. Out of all the otters, the Small-clawed Otters which are a species of the family are poached and sold the highest. Thailand is one of the source countries, where Japanese nationals were arrested for illegally smuggling otters. As many as 39 small-clawed Otters were seized at different intervals in the year 2017-2018, says a report by traffic.org. In Vietnam, an organization called Save Vietnam’s Wildlife which is a nonprofit organization received 10 otters last November by the police. Since the organization began; it was the first time that these animals received otters. The organization in Vietnam is known for rehabilitating animals from traffickers and smugglers.

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About the Author: Fiona Vaz

Passionate about writing, Fiona is best known for her features and abstract writing. A sports lover, an avid shopaholic and a travel freak, Fiona expresses thoughts through words and considers herself totally opinionated, and rightfully so!

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