83 Otters Compete for Japan’s Most Adorable Otter Championship… How Do We Choose From All These Cuties?
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If we’re talking about these otterly-adorable mammals, they’ll sure to render even the toughest of us powerless with their irresistible charms. Be it at the zoo, aquarium, or wherever, just one look at these fluffy otters and we’ll all be thinking the same thing: “I wanna bring one home!” In the recent years, the popularity of these cute aquatic creatures has risen all across Japan, inciting some fierce competition among these “celebrity” otters, and also raising conservation awareness for them and various other wildlife. Thus, the “Otter General Election” online poll was started to seek out the cutest otter of them all, with a total of 36 zoos and aquariums participating from all over Japan, and featuring 83 otter contestants.
Even though it’s just for the sole entertainment of otter fans, the organisers have gone the distance to rally up the competition, using promotional posters and campaign videos, each highlighting the winning points of each otter participant – much akin to our human general elections! For a more personal touch, some otter caretakers have started online diaries for their otters, tracking their growth and day-to-day activities. Die-hard fans can even attend meet-and-greet sessions to shake the hand of these adorable creatures. Talk about going the extra mile for votes indeed! As it wasn’t so well known the previous year, we didn’t think that this otter competition would take off with such soaring results – a whopping 510,000 votes were collected at the end of the voting month, surpassing the original goal of 10,000 votes! Looking at these sweet and precious faces though, it’s a wonder why we were surprised.
The winner of the Otter Championship is Bubuzera from Mie Ise Ocean Park, with his irresistible droopy doe eyes and helpless facial expressions.
It broke our hearts to learn that Bubuzera did not get to see the success of his win, as he passed away due to illness shortly after the month-long voting season began. This caused fans to vote even harder for his cause, pushing his second place ranking to first.
Second and third place in the championships went to Yamato from the Tokyo Ikebukuro Sunshine Aquarium and Kaede from Iwate Morioka City Animal Park.
Truly, this is a competition that proves how well-loved otters are in the hearts of the people of Japan, with Bubuzera earning 32,131 votes in total, and the other top ten ranked otters with more than 10,000 votes each. With much anticipation from fans, this year’s “Otter General Election” has taken off with 83 otter participants from 39 zoos and aquariums from all over Japan. The online voting period has started since 3rd September and ends on 14th October, with voters being able to cast one vote per day over the span of 45 days. So cast your votes for your favourite otter now! The results will be announced on 20th October at the aquarium itself and will be available to the public via the website on 22nd October.
On first impression, these otters may seem similar–making it hard to decide when it comes to voting for the one you like best. Give them a closer look and you’ll more or less be able to tell them apart. One thing that sets all of them apart are their funny quirks and individual personality traits that really leave an impression on voters.
For instance, there’s Yamato, who is in the running for championship this year. As it says on his profile beside his totally aww-worthy pose, Yamato is “100% cuteness. All planned.”
Meet 5 year old small-clawed otter Haku, also known as “Ikebukuro’s white devil,” because of his lighter-coloured fur coat, hence his name (Haku means ‘white’ in Japanese).