Saturday, July 31, 2010

Otterly Adorable

I’d apologize for having yet another Asian small-clawed otter post, but I suspect that most of you are as charmed by them as I am. At least, I haven’t heard any complaints yet (she said unwisely).

Certainly everyone who visits the zoo is thrilled to see them; I can always tell which part of their large enclosure they’ve moved to because the group of people gathered around that area will all suddenly, spontaneously exclaim, “Awwww….”

In fact, many people—mostly children, but also adults—are moved to say longingly, “I just want to hold one!”

A number of children express the desire for a pet otter. Some of the younger ones appeal immediately to their parents with “Can we? Please? Can we?”—apparently believing or hoping that, if their mom or dad says yes, they could purchase one right from the zoo. (Not that I’m mocking these children, mind you; when I was very little, I desperately wanted a tiny, living cartoon dog as a pet and was convinced that it was possible to get one.)

Parents have a number of ways of dealing with their children’s pleas. The response I heard most recently, and liked best, was a mother’s diplomatic, “They’d need a river, honey, and we don’t have one where we live.”

“We could build a river!” the little girl exclaimed. You could tell that in that instant she had had a vision of, if not the whole design and development process, then at least the final product, with water flowing through the backyard and otters frolicking in it.

“Well, I don’t know, honey… I think otters are a lot of work to take care of. Let’s wait until you’re a little older and see if you still want to build a river,” her mother said, trying not to smile.

“We could build a stream…” the little girl said thoughtfully as she watched the otters, engrossed. I liked this kid: she had big ideas, but she was a pragmatist, too, willing to scale down her landscaping plans in order to achieve her larger goal.

Overall, I was quite impressed by the detailed, long-term nature of her plan. Most people don’t get much farther than wanting to pet an otter: this kid envisioned diverting whole water systems. I only hope that once she grows up she’ll use her powers for conservation purposes and not for habitat-destructive, industrial ones. I guess only time will tell if she still wants to build a river.

1 comment:

Anca said...

Keep 'em coming! I want one, too, and I'm willing to divert a river for it.

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