Nuka, the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s newest northern sea otter pup, passed quarantine and settled quickly into his new home behind the scenes. He has now crossed another milestone in his journey to the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Exhibit. Despite his young age and short time at the Aquarium, the little otter’s training is progressing in leaps and bounds. Nuka quickly learned to gently accept food from people with his paws and to leave and return to the water on cue. He also follows trainers as directed during training sessions and stands patiently on a scale during checkups.
He is still practicing paw “target,” which is one of the most important management behaviors the Aquarium’s mammalogists teach animals under their care. Mastering the target behavior will help Nuka participate in his own care, like learning how to lie patiently for staff during weekly veterinary exams. The target behavior requires Nuka to hold his paws, nose and attention on a designated point, like a foam buoy, for an extended period of time. This proves to be challenging for the energetic little sea otter that seems to be easily distracted by the world around him, but his performance has improved quickly. Continue reading