â€śHeâ€™s definitely got game,â€ť Jenny DeGroot, the zooâ€™s lead sea otter keeper, said in a press release. â€śSea otters have incredible dexterity, so it makes sense Eddie would have this hidden talent. Theyâ€™re famous for using rocks as tools to crack open clams.â€ť
The Oregon Zoo says that Eddie, who was abandoned as a pup, is 15 years old. According to the Alaska Sea Otter and Stellar Sea Lon Commission, sea otters can live up to 25 years, but typically live to 10 or 12. So it should come as no surprise, then, that Eddie has been suffering from some creaky joints.
According to TODAY, zoo veterinarians discovered Eddie's elbow arthritis last year, prompting them to prescribe more exercise for the elderly sea otter.
â€śWe had to get creative,â€ť DeGroot said. â€śThere arenâ€™t many natural opportunities for Eddie to work those arthritic elbow joints, because sea otters donâ€™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.â€ť
Eddie's basketball skills have wowed the Internet, as netizens applaud the old creature for his lively antics.
"Nothing has ever been as cute as this," one YouTube user declared of the video.
"He's trying out for theď»ż Harlem Globe Otters," teased another commenter.
Eddie is one of two southern sea otters that live at the Oregon Zoo. According to the zoo's website, sea otters are classified as a threatened species in the United States. The International Union for Conservation of Nature also lists sea otters as an endangered species.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the sea otter population, due to oil spills and pollution, as well as predation, disease and a number of other factors-- is "believed to have undergone a decline exceeding 50 percent over the past 30 years."
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