Drop everything and brace yourself for this news: You can swim with otters and if they like you (try not to yell from excitement right now), they will give you rocks!
The California-based nonprofit Nurtured by Nature offers an “otter swim encounter” during which a group of eight people take a three hour guided tour in a pool with playful Asian small-clawed otters. You can feed the otters and if they like you, they’ll give you a rock, according to the blog Did You Know?
The workers at the San Diego County animal center have a competition to see who leaves the pool with the most rocks shoved into their bathing suit.
That “otter” be enough, but if you need more, you can touch and feed a two-toed sloth, an African crested porcupine, several kinds of armadillos, a kangaroo, an African ground hornbill, hedgehogs and horses, according to the organization’s website.
In addition to offering an opportunity to interact with the intelligent and social otters, Nurtured by Nature gives a free experience to children with terminal illness via the Make-A-Wish foundation and raises awareness about the vulnerable animals.
“Vulnerable” is one step below endangered on theIUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of animals around the world in order to stop extinction. “Of the 13 species of otter, only one, the North American River Otter, is not in trouble,” according to Nutured by Nature’s website.
Some estimate that there are only 5,000 of these emotional guys in the wild. IUCN notes that the population of Asian small-clawed otters is declining each year.
Follow Kimberly M.Aquilinaon Twitter@KimESTAqui