Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)
Aww, the sea otter…so cute, so resourceful, so smart. Such adorable bobbing buoys above the Pacific kelp forests. Such…jerks?
Yep, that’s right - just like humans observed decades ago in animals that they considered to be “highly intelligent” (such as dolphins, elephants, and apes), when you get smarter, you get more potential for dickishness. The brain power it takes to use tools and find novel ways to extract food also gives sea otters the mental capacity to understand how to manipulate the behavior of other otters.
To wit: Male sea otters are routine kidnappers. Though otters often raise pups in close proximity to one another, and males occasionally interact with pups in an amicable fashion, one of the most common behaviors of younger males is to kidnap the pup of a sleeping mom and hold it ransom.
The mother goes into a panic and will procure an almost absurd amount of food for the male, just to get her pup back. Older males will engage in kidnapping from time to time, but from what’s been observed thus far, it largely seems to be a behavior of the younger male who hasn’t perfected his hunting skills, and instead of improving his skills, sees an easy way out.
What a jerk.
Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. John James Audubon. Completed and posthumously published by John Woodhouse Audubon, 1858.