Move over, Michael Jordan. Sorry, Shaq! Come back later, Kobe. An arthritic otter named Eddie is today’s Internet basketball star.
When veterinarians at the Oregon zoo in Portland discovered that the zoo’s 15-year old sea otter Eddie was suffering from arthritic elbows, they came up with a unique solution to help ease what ails him: basketball. “We had to get creative,” Jenny DeGroot, the zoo’s lead otter keeper, said in a press release. “There aren’t many natural opportunities for Eddie to work those arthritic elbow joints, because sea otters don’t use their front limbs to swim — they swim by moving their back legs and flippers. So training him with the basketball hoop was a way to get Eddie using those front limbs more regularly.”
DeGroot and her team began training Eddie to put a ball through a plastic basketball hoop last year; he also receives daily doses of vitamins and anti-inflammatory medication to help ease his creaky joints. Now that the elderly (in otter years) animal has figured out the game, he rarely misses a shot. “Sea otters have incredible dexterity, so it makes sense Eddie would have this hidden talent. They’re famous for using rocks as tools to crack open clams,” said DeGroot. “He’s definitely got game,” she added.