Intelligent Sea Otter Opens and Closes Door to His Aquarium Habitat

Video shows the moment Hardy the otter delights his trainer by showing off his newly-learned door etiquette.

The sea otter can be seen in the footage sliding out of a swimming pool filled with other otters and using his nose to close the door behind him.

His performance receives coos of encouragement and a few fishy treats from Kristyn Plancarte, a marine biologist who used positive reinforcement to train the 5-year-old otter at the Vancouver Aquarium in Canada last year.

Hardy the sea otter at Vancouver Aquarium
Hardy the sea otter poses for a photo in the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, Canada. Hardy has learned how to open and close doors, delighting his keeper. KPassionate/Zenger

Speaking to Zenger News, Plancarte said: "Usually that's trading snacks for things that we want them to do."

The otter can then be seen opening the door using his paws and his nose and slips back into the pool as fast as Plancarte can say "water."

She explained: "Some of the most important behaviors that we train are for husbandry.

"The otters, for instance, do voluntary vaccinations far better than most people's pets."

Hardy was rescued by the Vancouver Marine Mammal Rescue, which "spotted him floating alone when he was still just a pup, like really only about 2 to 4 weeks old," said the trainer.

The video of the A-student otter - titled "Are Sea otters smart?" - has received more than 14,000 "likes" on the marine mammal trainer's Instagram account.

An Insta caption on Hardy's talents says: "Here is Hardy opening and closing doors! Apart from being highly intelligent, sea otters also have very dexterous paws. At times it almost seems like they have thumbs. In the wild this helps them to shuck oysters and clams for their voracious appetites."

Kristyn Plancarte poses with walrus in Vancouver
Kristyn Plancarte poses for a selfie with a walrus at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, Canada. KPassionate/Zenger

One follower replied: "Waterdogs."

Another wrote: "Hardy's so clever!"

Plancarte told Zenger News: "When I was a kid, I always knew I wanted to work with animals.

"They're very smart animals, and because they are not having to forage for their food every waking hour, they need something else to occupy their time.

"I basically trained him [Hardy] to open and close those doors, which in retrospect is maybe not a great idea.

"He very quickly figured out that that was one of his favorite pastimes."

Hardy is not the first mischievous otter the trainer has come across.

"We had one other like that. She would never do it when you ask, but she's actually locked one of our trainers in the exit. She was outside and he was inside and he had to call for help. He couldn't get out."

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.