We're all about photos of cute animals--but fuzzy friends you can actually see in person are even better. This Saturday, in keeping with its trend of family-friendly attractions, the National Zoo will introduce its newest family--11 Asian small-clawed otters--to yours. You can even get "ottergraphed" (their pun, not ours) drawings of the critters for much of the morning, beginning at 10 AM.
The new residents come to us from Santa Barbara, and since Whole Foods Market paid for their coast-to-coast transport, the company was allowed to pick the otters' names. Which are (drumroll please): Chowder, Clementine, Pork Chop, Pickles, Saffron, Olive, Peaches, Turnip, Radish, Rutabaga (our personal fave), and . . . Kevin. Naturally.
The otters are here largely because they're vulnerable to extinction in their native lands (China, Indonesia, and the Philippines), due to habitat destruction, hunting, and pollution. Scientists consider their health indicative of the health of their environment, so the family has been brought to the zoo so their behavior can be studied with conservation in mind.
The otters' new home, the largest habitat of its kind in the country, sits on Asia Trail right near the pandas. Admission is, as always, free.