These Otters Are Popular Pets in Asia. That May Be Their Undoing.
For The New York Times
April 22, 2019
TOKYO — We smelled them before we saw them. Amid an overwhelming reek of urine and scat, we descended a tight staircase into a cramped basement, where tattered ottomans faced a small wire cage.
Within the cage stood the star attractions and source of the odor: four Asian small-clawed otters. Spotting us, the animals burst into chirps, whimpers, shrieks and screams.
After passing around a laminated sheet with warnings printed in Japanese, Mandarin and English (“Otters sometimes become violent”), a handler opened the cage. The animals bolted out and flew about the room, racing over laps and gobbling down kibbles.