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]

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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Do Dogs Get Headaches?

Even without raging benders, dogs might still get headaches.
Even without raging benders, dogs might still get headaches.
damedeeso/iStock via Getty Images

Like babies, dogs can be hard to read in the medical ailment department. Are they listless because they’re tired, or because they’re sick? What’s behind their whining? And can they suffer that most human of debilitating conditions, the headache?

Gizmodo polled several veterinarians and animal behavior specialists to find out, and the answer seems to be a resounding yes.

Although a dog can’t express discomfort in a specific way, particularly if it doesn’t involve limping, animal experts know that canines that have diagnosed brain tumors or encephalitis can also be observed to have a high heart rate, a sign of physical pain. According to Tim Bentley, an associate professor of veterinary neurology and neurosurgery at Purdue Veterinary Medicine, administering painkillers will bring a dog’s heart rate down. If signs of physical distress also decrease, a headache was likely involved.

Unfortunately, not all dogs may offer overt signals they’re feeling some brain pain. According to Adam Boyko, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, dogs instinctively try to mask pain to avoid showing weakness.

Ultimately, dogs have many of the same central neural pathways as humans, which can likely go awry in some of the same ways. But the kind of persistent headaches owing to head colds or hangovers are probably rare in dogs. And while it goes without saying, they definitely don't need any of your Advil.

[h/t Gizmodo]