Cattolica (RN), Italy – Not all blizzards… comes to harm! For Eve, Marta and Constance, the three Asian small-clawed otters (Aoyx cinerea) living at Cattolica Acquarium, in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, the recent snowfalls have turned into an unexpected chance of playing new games.
I work at Cattolica Aquarium and sometimes our trainers and biologists just surprise us with what goes on behind-the-scenes, disclosing animal behaviour that is not witnessed by visitors. Here’s a video that Stefano Gridelli who takes care of fish, sharks, caimans and otters, came up with after the abundant snowfalls following up the the Buran blizzard that is storming Italy. Jus a pair of buckets of fresh snow were enough to make the otter’s day: a positive enrichment that they cherished! Enrichment is the technical word for a rich protocol of intercourse, training, stimulation, response that is related to the welfare of animals living in facilities.
In the video the three otters are first puzzled then excited by their encounted with snow .
As a matter of fact, Eurasian otters are as lively as they are voracious: they need to eat daily about 15% of their body weight, their diet consisting of fish, frogs, crabs, shrimps and seafood.
The three little sisters found themselves in front of an irresistible series of games: from peek-a-boo to scavenger hunt to snowballs battle in a bonanza of stimuli that they appeared to appreciate at once. Thanks to the cold spell that struck Italy, they too were able to experience what happens when the snow makes its appearance in normally warm weather areas: time for play, everyone! Last to arrive is…a sloth!
Native to the swampy areas of South and Southeast Asia, this species dwells between mangroves swamps, wetland, rice-paddies and hills. Their dense fur has features about 1,000 hairs per mm2 that keeps them dry and warm while trapping in air bubbles. Adult specimen can reach a length of 90 cm and can weigh about 5 kg. Due to ongoing habitat loss, pollution, and hunting in some areas, it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.