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

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 video blogger.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge


The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.