In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to share a story about one of my favorite animal encounters.
Last summer I had the unique opportunity to partake in the Sea Otter Experience at the Minnesota Zoo.
It was a hot summer morning when I met trainer Jenny, along with two other participants in the lobby of the zoo. Dressed for 40 degree temperatures in the otter habitat, I was beyond excited to enjoy my birthday gift and get up close and personal with one of my favorite animals.
Our experience started with a presentation about otter behaviors, their habitat and a little Q & A session with Jenny. Then it was time to go to the food prep area. We saw the variety of fish they feed the otters at the zoo and learned how they blend up fish with vitamins and other meds (as needed).
Next up was meeting an otter! Our group worked with Jasper. We went into the training area. We were behind glass, but we got to watch the trainer give Jasper signals and see how he would react. It was fascinating to see how responsive the otter was with Jenny.
Then the exciting part…we got to feed Jasper! For safety reasons, you feed the otter through a small circular hole in the glass. Each person got their own turn and it was so fun to see how excited Jasper interacted with everyone. After the feeding session, it was picture time. Jasper posed behind a half glass wall, so everyone could have a photo to capture the moment.
The final phase of our experience was to set up a learning lab for Jasper. Each of us selected four fishy treats along with some toys, placed them into the enclosure, along with a sled decorated with frozen squid and other fish flavored delights. We left the area, and Jasper was let in to put his playful instincts to work! In no time at all, the treats were gone and Jasper was floating along the water in the sled. Everyone took more photos, and then Jenny brought us to the behind the scenes area of the enclosure to see what the trainers see.
All too soon the experience was over, but what an amazing opportunity!