You just had to do it, didn’t you, 2018? You just had to give us one more little kick in the balls before we bid farewell and welcomed in the new year.
I was already looking forward to saying good riddance to you, 2018, but now I really can’t wait. Because, for some reason, you’ve decided to strip the world of one of the most joyful creatures in it – Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter.
If you don’t who Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter is, just watch this emotional farewell video that Oregon Zoo has put together. And if it doesn’t make your heart both melt with cuteness but rage with fury that 2018 has decided to take Eddie the slam-dunking otter away from us, enjoy your lump of coal next week.
Tissues at the ready:
Sadly, age (though I’m still sticking to blaming it on 2018 specifically) caught up with Eddie the slam-dunking otter, and he slammed his last dunk at the tender age of 20.
He was believed to be one of the oldest sea otters in the world, as the species have an average life expectancy of 15.
Amy Cutting, from Oregon Zoo, said:
Male sea otters seldom live past 15 years, so Eddie was among the very oldest of his kind. He was quite feisty as a young otter, and we still saw that spirit come through during his later years. He got along great with our two younger otters, Juno and Lincoln, and was often observed wrestling and playing with them. But he was the elder statesman of the group, and they learned to leave him alone when he wanted to rest.
Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter was first encouraged to play basketball to help his arthritic elbows.
Turns out he was pretty good:
Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter was found as a pup on the California coast in 1998, orphaned and lacking the skills needed to survive on his own in the wild.
He did, however, possess a particular set of other skills – namely, being great at basketball – which the Monterey Bay Aquarium obviously recognised. They adopted him, and took him for rehabilitation in their rescue and care programme.
After some time in the programme, however, Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter was deemed ‘non-releasable’ by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. So, in 2000, he arrived at Oregon Zoo where he would live and shoot hoops.
And it was his hoop-shooting ability that brought Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter to the attention of the world, after a video uploaded by the zoo went viral in 2013, and was viewed more than 1.7 million times.
Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter turned 20 earlier this year, and as a special present received a gift basket full of toys from the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team.
Sadly, sea otters are still listed as threatened on the Endangered Species list. Thanks to animals like Eddie the slam-dunking sea otter, however, awareness and conservation of the beautiful creatures is growing, and conservationists are hoping to reintroduce sea otters off the Oregon coast soon, where they have not established colonies since 1907.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.