Sea otter shoots hoops to exercise arthritic elbow joints

(AP)

CNN

An elderly sea otter at a US zoo has been found to have a remarkable talent for basketball.

Veterinarians at Oregon Zoo discovered arthritis in the 15-year-old otter’s elbows, and prescribed regular exercise to improve joint function.

Sea otters don’t use their front limbs for swimming, so zoo keepers said they had to get creative, finding an alternative way for getting the otter, known as Eddie, to flex his elbows.

Eddie was taught to throw and catch a ball, and to dunk it through a hoop.

Despite being fairly elderly by otter standards – they don’t usually live much beyond 20 years, according to zoo staff – Eddie’s keeper said he was a quick learner.

She said he could get the ball through the hoop after just one week, and is now so good that he rarely misses a shot.

Swimming around his training pool, out of the sight of zoo visitors, Eddie looks to enjoy his exercise, and is rewarded with treats of fish.

Zoo staff said Eddie, a southern sea otter, was rescued off the Californian coast, and was brought to Oregon Zoo in 2000.

(Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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