Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium Wants Your Help Naming Its Rescued Sea Otter Pups

Shedd Aquarium, YouTube
Shedd Aquarium, YouTube

Earlier this year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium found two male baby otters—just weeks old—on the coast of California with no adult sea otters in sight. Now both 5 months old, the sea otter pups are learning how to forage, dive, and groom themselves in the Regenstein Pup Nursery at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

Shedd aquarium otter pups
Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

They’re known as Pup 870 and Pup 872, but the aquarium is asking for your help in re-christening the lovable creatures with cuter names. Perhaps wary of ending up with otters named Otty McOtterface, John Cena, or something worse, the animal care staff created a short list of names to choose from, which all relate to the sea otters’ native California habitat.

The options are Cooper (after Cupertino, California), Watson (after Watsonville, California), Obi (short for San Luis Obispo, California), Bennett, or Simon (after San Miguel Island’s Point Bennett and Simonton Cove, respectively).

You can vote here as many times as you’d like between now and September 28, and the winning names will be announced the following Monday, September 30. At that point, the sea otter pups will start their gradual transition from the nursery to the Regenstein Sea Otter Habitat, where visitors will have a chance to see them.

The naming contest is part of Shedd Aquarium’s observance of Sea Otter Awareness Week this week, which aims to educate the public about otters’ role in the marine ecosystem and encourage us to protect the species.

“Sea otters are around today because enough people came together and demanded protections like the Endangered Species Act,” Peggy Sloan, Shedd’s chief animal officer, said in a press release. “The best way we can ensure the continued survival of species like sea otters is by making your voices heard with elected officials, letting them know that you oppose the weakening of any kind on protections like the ESA.”

Shedd aquarium otter pup
Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

While you’re waiting to find out which names come out on top, celebrate Sea Otter Awareness Week with some otter facts.

[h/t Shedd Aquarium]

This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Fiona the Hippo Is Now on Cameo

Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Fiona the Hippo has earned her status as a celebrity. Born prematurely and weighing just 29 pounds in 2017, she became a sensation when she beat the odds and survived. Now, the Cincinnati Zoo's most beloved resident is taking her famous mug to Cameo.

Cameo is a service that allows fans to pay for personalized video messages from various celebrities. Most celebrities on the website are people, but that hasn't stopped Fiona from offering her star presence to the public.

For $100, you can request a custom video from the Cincinnati Zoo starring Fiona. A zoo staff member will recite the message while filming Fiona being adorable in her enclosure. One example video shows Fiona hanging out with her mom and snacking on some lettuce while her caretaker wishes the recipient a happy birthday.

Animal lovers who pay for a Cameo from Fiona will be supporting a good cause, too. Proceeds from the purchase will go to the Cincinnati Zoo, which is currently operating at limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a Cameo account, you can request your own video message for $100 here.

This isn't the first time the Cincinnati Zoo has used Fiona's popularity as a fundraising tool. Earlier this year, the zoo started selling the dung left behind by Fiona and other animals as garden fertilizer.