April 18, 2001
2:05 PM   Subscribe

Sea Otters. Cute 'n cuddly gentle animals or sociopathic, predatory, sexual killers?
posted by mathowie (15 comments total)
Quite a lot of nature is pretty off-putting as soon as you get to know it up close and personal. Just about anything big enough to eat your bichon frise will be happy to do so. The only answer is (as the man says in Book I) "All things are very good..."
posted by jfuller at 2:19 PM on April 18, 2001

This goes along with an earlier story about a killer shrimp at the Monterey Aquarium. What the hell are they putting in the water there?

I visited Monterey last year and found everyone there to be totally stuck on themselves. The idea that they raised a 65 pound otter that is swimming up and down the coast raping baby seals seems to fit the profile. Their bad karma has created this twisted monster.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:42 PM on April 18, 2001

Wow! The more we know, the more it seems other species are not much different from humans. (Or maybe this is because this particular Otter was raised by humans. Who knows?)
posted by tamim at 2:44 PM on April 18, 2001

So if this articles proves that pedophilia and necrophilia are naturally occurring, how does that change our ideas about tolerating these types of deviant sexual behavior?

For a long time, (and still to an extent today), homosexuality was considered unnatural and very dangerous to society, but now our minds are changing to tolerate it. Pedophilia was once glorified by the Greeks (see Phaedrus by Plato), but now is considered unfair to the child. We disapprove of necrophilia out of respect for the dead, I guess.

Will we eventually tolerate pedophilia or necrophilia?
posted by ktheory at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2001

"....proves that pedophilia and necrophilia are naturally occurring...."

Now hold on there. I'm perfectly willing to look at evidence for something like that, but I don't think it fits here. The behaviors of an otter raised by humans in an aquarium can't be assumed to be natural. In fact quite the contrary - They want to get this beast out of the ocean because it's *not* natural.

Of course IANAMB (I am not a marine biologist).
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2001

There's some strange things going on. For instance, in lions when a new male enters a pride (kicking out the previous male) he'll kill all the cubs if he can. That makes the females come into heat so he can breed as soon as possible. Feral house-cat toms will do the same thing; they kill kittens if they can find them.

Jane Goodall has observed cannibalism among chimpanzees, with adults killing and eating babies they have taken from others.

Our horror in this is to some extent cultural, an extension of the "noble savage" mythology. But discovery of these kinds of things in nature has nothing whatever to do with the ethical question of whether humans should do the same thing.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2001

"Later we saw him with live seals who wound up dying in his care.''

You're leaving an otter to "care" for the zoo's other animals? Well, there's your problem.... :-)
posted by jpoulos at 3:46 PM on April 18, 2001

I always wince when people talk about their dreams of swimming with the dolphins ... how they're such playful and mystical guardian spirits, so loving. Dolphins are large and quite aggressive animals who happen to have mouths built such that they look to humans like they're smiling. I wouldn't want to be alone with them in the ocean.
posted by argybarg at 4:12 PM on April 18, 2001

I can't help but laugh at the article... this is totally hilarious. Animals' lives are at stake! Good Lord! That's borderline looney! It's like this guy doesn't realize that animals get killed on a regular basis in the wild.

Then again, I would hate it if a serial killing otter showed up at my front door tomorrow. We had better send him to the joint; put him in solitary confinement for crimes against otterty. OOOh... better yet, why don't we try to reform him! Then when he gets out of therapy, maybe he'll go all respectable-like and get a job at the supermarket...
posted by fusinski at 4:26 PM on April 18, 2001

I wouldn't want to be alone with them in the ocean.

You might not, but some people sure would.
posted by webmutant at 4:31 PM on April 18, 2001

My male dog has tried having sex with a cat, we eventually got a female dog as well, we felt bad for the poor bastard.

Two litters later, he's no longer neurotic.
posted by Zool at 4:32 PM on April 18, 2001

He wasn't in a zoo. He was abandoned by his mother and rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation program.

Forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts indicate that the offending otter molests the young seals, attempts rough sex with them and, ultimately, shoves their snouts underwater until they drown or die of shock trauma.

So he's rough, extremely horny and BIG. The drownings may be an accident in the act of mating, but who knows.

Apparently he's not a lone gunman

The original December article states the big predicament:
sea otters "enjoy a sort of diplomatic immunity because they are classified as threatened animals under the federal Endangered Species Act. No such protection is afforded to the victims: harbor seal pups."
posted by fooljay at 4:52 PM on April 18, 2001

Hmmm, thinking about it, that last part sounds like a silly Hollywood plot...
posted by fooljay at 4:59 PM on April 18, 2001

You poor sheltered folks don't know the half of it. Check out Those Naughty Sea Otters. The song at the end is pretty great.
posted by gleuschk at 5:01 PM on April 18, 2001

> So if this articles proves that pedophilia and necrophilia
> are naturally occurring, how does that change our ideas
> about tolerating these types of deviant sexual behavior?

Quite a number of mammals keep their den area sanitary by eating their babies' shit while the kits/pups are too young to go out. Does that knowledge change your attitude towards eating shit? It isn't always a good idea to take moral (or even hygenic) lessons from nature...
posted by jfuller at 8:09 AM on April 19, 2001

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