Dua, one of four Asian small-clawed otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has learned to play the piano as a behind-the-scenes “enrichment.” Our husbandry staff created this activity to give Dua something interesting to do, extend his feeding time and make use of his incredible dexterity—a trait he shares with others of his species.
Alicia Pereyra, our senior sea otter aquarist, got the idea by watching how skillfully these freshwater otters use their paws and fingers. She also thought training Dua to play the piano would be a good way for her to spend time with this young male otter.
Dua is playing his special brand of music behind the scenes, as you can see in the accompanying video. His brother, Satu, is keeping him company off exhibit. (And no, the brothers aren’t performing duets.) The two are behind the scenes in preparation for their move to the International Primate Protection League in South Carolina on June 23. There they’ll provide company—and may be the future mates—for a lone female Asian small-clawed otter.
You can see two other Asian small-clawed otters, brothers Empate and Tiga, in our Wild About Otters exhibit. But be quick! The special exhibition closes on September 13. (Our sea otter exhibit remains open as always. No music lessons behind the scenes for them, though. If our female sea otters are off exhibit, it’s usually because they’re raising stranded pups we hope to return to the wild.)
As you can see, Dua’s become quite accomplished on the keyboard. With practice, maybe he’ll be able to woo his new female companion with a romantic song!