Zoo's slam-dunking sea otter dies
Eddie the Oregon Zoo's slam-dunking and aging seat otter, was humanely euthanized Thursday morning, Dec. 20, because his health had declined.
Eddie was 20 years old, which is pretty old for a sea otter.
"Male sea otters seldom live past 15 years, so Eddie was among the very oldest of his kind," said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo's marine life area. "He was quite feisty as a young otter, and we still saw that spirit come through during his later years. He got along great with our two younger otters, Juno and Lincoln, and was often observed wrestling and playing with them. But he was the elder statesman of the group, and they learned to leave him alone when he wanted to rest."
Eddie orphaned as a pup on the California coast in 1998. He was taken to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's rescue and care program for rehabilitation. After the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed he could not be released back into the wild, he came to the Oregon Zoo in 2000.
In 2012, his zookeepers trained him to dunk a toy basketball as therapy for his arthritic elbow joints. A 2013 video of his exercise routine had more than 1.7 million views on the zoo's YouTube channel.
Sea otters — listed as threatened — once ranged along the north Pacific Rim from Japan to Baja California, including along the Oregon Coast. They were hunted to the brink of extinction during the late 1800s and early 1900s.