Otters playing the keyboard: Asian small-clawed otters celebrated enrichment at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Watch the Smithsonian Zoo's Otters Do Their Best Mozart Impression
Wild Things
Slate’s animal blog.
May 27 2014 5:02 PM

Watch the Smithsonian Zoo's Otters Do Their Best Mozart Impression

Above is a video of Asian small-clawed otters playing the keyboard. We suggest you watch it immediately. It's every bit as adorable as it sounds, and it should, at least temporarily, help you overcome that Memorial Day weekend withdrawal you may currently be experiencing.

The otters are residents of Smithsonian's National Zoo and were given the instruments as a part of the zoo's animal enrichment program, which the Smithsonian describes as "the process of providing stimulating environments for zoo animals in order for them to demonstrate their species-typical behavior, to allow them exercise control or choice over their environment, and to enhance their well-being." In addition to the awesomeness that is watching otters stick their little paws through their cage in order to tickle the ivories, the stimulation provided by playing the instrument also helps improve the animals' hearing, sight, and touch. Enrichment is therefore "just as critical to zoo animal welfare as nutrition and veterinary medicine."


The otters get access to the keyboard twice a month, which at least partially explains why they seemed to be a bit rusty in their featured performance. Either that, or their handlers really need to do a better job of keeping their equipment in tune.

A.J. McCarthy is a Slate writer and producer.

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