June 21, 2024

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The NBA Finals are not the only should-see basketball this time. Juno, a rescued sea otter at the Oregon Zoo, is swimming straight to the hoop — and she can dunk with the very best of them.

A number of many years ago, zoo treatment employees properly trained the otter to put a ball by means of a plastic basketball hoop as a way of exercising her elbow joints. Right until lately, her athletic exploits took area off-watch, in a driving-the-scenes coaching pool.

Now, thanks an help from the zoo servicing group, Juno slams it dwelling in a custom made-manufactured hoop mounted to the rock wall of her habitat. Zoo guests lucky plenty of to capture a person of her training periods can see some remarkable basketball motion — no NBA Finals tickets necessary.

At 9, Juno’s however a rather young sea otter, but going her front limbs is a way of staving off stiffness and arthritis as she ages, in accordance to zoo caregivers. Additionally, she just cannot get ample of the game.

“Juno enjoys to engage in basketball,” stated Nicole Nicassio-Hiskey, the zoo’s senior maritime life keeper. “She gets so energized any time we carry the ball out for her schooling sessions. And she’s very good, as well!”

Sea otters are known for their playfulness, which Nicassio-Hiskey thinks presents Juno an gain on the courtroom. During their each day training sessions, care employees provide two smaller basketballs along. If she chooses to, Juno can pick a person up in her entrance paws and dunk it into her exclusive basket. She also “dribbles” the ball by swimming around the hoop with it. She ends every session with some of her favourite new seafood.


Juno is section of a maritime mammal basketball dynasty. A long time ago, Oregon Zoo caregivers trained sea otter Eddie to dunk as a way of training the ageing otter’s arthritic elbow joints. Eddie, approximately 21 decades previous when he died in 2018, was a person of the oldest regarded sea otters in the world and acquired worldwide fame for his dunking abilities.

Juno and the two other sea otters at the Oregon Zoo — Lincoln and Uni Sushi — are rescue animals, orphaned off the coast of California as tiny pups and introduced to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s rescue and care application for rehabilitation. Not able to be paired with a surrogate mother, they had been deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Support.

Sea otters, once ample alongside the Oregon coast, had been hunted to extinction listed here in the early 1900s. The zoo is supporting to bring them again through a partnership with the Elakha Alliance, a tribal-initiated nonprofit leading the reintroduction energy. Restoring sea otters to the Oregon Coastline would help defend the marine ecosystems that all Oregonians rely on.