It looks like sea otters at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium have something of a sweet tooth.
In honor of Sea Otter Awareness Week (Sept. 22 through 28) the aquarium got celebrations off to an early start by giving the four otters seven “cakes” to -- as the aquarium staff said -- "eat, lick, hog, demolish and otherwise enjoy."
According to aquarium staff, it took less than 10 minutes for otters Yaku, Kiana, Mari and Cayucos to reduce the cakes to a "few chunks of melting ice and telltale smears of blue, green, orange and purple around otter mouths." Mari and Cayucos reportedly had a tug-of-war over one ice layer cake (embedded above).
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Trainer Christy Sterling, who is assistant supervisor of sea otters and penguins, decorated the "cakes" which are actually hard resin shapes topped with tinted freshly pureed clam-and-water formula. Other treats, all of which are frozen solid for the otters' delight, are covered with frozen fish and shrimp.
According to the aquarium, sea otters eat 20 to 25 percent of their weight daily.
Mike Pratt, an animal care specialist said some of the otters were eating items they normally dislike in training and said the hours of prep work were worth it -- even if the otters destroyed the sea cake creations in a matter of minutes.
“That’s okay,” Pratt said. “We have as much fun making these cakes as the otters have eating them.”
This year marks the 11th annual Sea Otter Awareness week, which is celebrated by zoos, aquariums, natural history museums, marine institutions and others to help promote conservation of sea otters and their marine habitat.