SlotNite Casino – the cheeky local otters and their games

Most of us have seen in different wildlife videos or even live, in zoos or, for the lucky ones, outdoors in their own natural habitat, that otters 🦦 really love to play with small, round pebbles. Researchers studying animal behavior have been investigating the phenomenon for a long time.

There are several theories as to why otters play with pebbles. Interestingly, this playfulness has been observed in different otter species. The following possibilities have been put forward:

  • Practicing for getting food
  • The joy of play itself

The first hypothesis was somewhat rejected because, as I mentioned above, this behavior has been observed in several species of otters. There are species that feed on mussels and smaller crustaceans 🦐, so it might have been somewhat logical to assume that they would train with stones. Because, cracking the shells of mussels and crabs requires manual dexterity.

However, otter species that consume fish do not require as much dexterity, yet they play with the round shaped stones in the same way as their mussel and crab-eating fellows.

Another experiment contradicts the theory mentioned above. The experiment was done over a longer period of time and involved several otters. Some were provided with stones to play with and some were not. Later, no difference was observed between the playful and non-playful otters in the retrieval of food. So, we can say that ”juggling” stones is not related to retrieval of food.

So what is the link between stones and hunger?
More research has demonstrated that the hungrier the otter, the more actively it plays with stones. This can be seen mainly in zoos, before feeding time. When feeding time is near, otters are more eager to play with their favorite pebbles.

This might also suggest (though it is far from proven) that when otters are hungry, they play with the stones, knowing very well that zoo visitors enjoy it. Otters are very intelligent animals, sensitive to the stimuli of their environment. They have ingenious ways of interpreting the information that comes from there.

So, you might think that by making their game even more interesting to visitors, they might even be able to get some food out of them. The zoo’s visitors can buy animal food nearby the various animal habitats and feed it to them. So the clever and creative otters may be using the game to trick visitors for food. Really, really inventive, what do you guys think? Haha! 😁

But I cannot say enough that, like the other hypotheses, this one neither be scientifically proven. In the meantime, while we await further research on otter behavior, I’ll tell you a cute and funny story.

The “professional players” of the local zoo

I really love visiting my hometown zoo. Sometimes I come here several times a month with family or friends. I even have adopted one of the meerkats, but only on paper, of course. This means that every month I contribute with a small amount of money to its care costs. I think this is a very good initiative really.

The zoo also has otters, of course. There are also otters of different breeds in two separate small habitats. The zookeeper’s have also noticed that the otters’ play with stones too and, together with the visitors, have come up with a very sympathetic little story about all of this.

Since the stones that otters play with are very similar to the chips used in casinos 🎰, two signs are placed above the doors of the small wooden houses of the two otter families. One says SlotNite Casino and the other says Tsars Casino.

SlotNite Casino and Tsars Casino are real-life casinos, which makes it even funnier. The rounded and flat stones in the otters’ habitat have been painted different colors by the caretakers to imitate real chips. So before feeding time, when the animals take out their little chips and start playing, visitors can hardly contain their laughter. The whole scene is really funny!

Sometimes one of the caregivers will narrate the whole scene into a microphone, which only makes it more entertaining. On rare occasions, about once a month, there is a special show that focuses on the “casino otters” juggling chips. Visitors can also “place their bets” and bet on lottery numbers. The money raised by all of these goes to support the zoo.

The little furry players of Tsars Casino have also been featured on the local TV’s evening news, showing off their dope gaming skills to the public 🤩. And after the game, they get extra tasty snacks, which they balance with their clever little fingers as skillfully as they balance the stone chips.

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