Mei, a clever little sea otter who lives at Toba Aquarium in Toba, Mie Prefecture, skilfully collects colourful sea otters from the water and places them at the edge of the tank while keepers clean them. This is part of a strengthening exercise that May and the other sea otters regularly participate in. They seem to be having a lot of fun too. Sea otters are considered endangered, so repopulation programs like this contribute to their survival.
The sea otter is the international ambassador species for otters and the first animal to be hunted to the brink of extinction and saved in the nick of time. Unlike other marine mammals, they do not have fat to protect them from hypothermia. Instead, they have the thickest and densest fur of any mammal. The number of hairs is 500,000 per square centimetre. It is this quality that makes its fur so attractive, and almost causes the otter's death.