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You can get up close and personal with the sea otters at Shedd Aquarium

Written by
Marty Johnson

It's a well-known fact that sea otters hold onto each other's paws while they sleep so that they don't drift apart. Now you can get up close and personal with those paws—and the cute-as-a-button creatures behind them—at the Shedd Aquarium's new Sea Otter Encounter experience.

“Guests have never been able to come face to face with the otters like this before at Shedd, and we cannot wait for them to see what we see every day,” says Steve Aibel, the senior director of Marine Mammals at the Shedd Aquarium.

The experience allows visitors to go behind the scenes of the institution's sea otter habitat and assist with staff training sessions. Though plexiglass walls divide you and the otters at all time, there are holes that the animals have been trained to stick their hands through the receive food from visitors. (Adorable, right?). The furry critters are also trained to stick their hands out to be petted, but this special experience is largely dependent on the otter's mood.

The hourlong encounter, which launches March 3, may sound like a dream come true, but the opportunity comes with a considerable price tag. Tickets are $109.95 for adults, $94.94 for children ages 6–11, and $64.95 for members. The experience is being rolled out slowly to give the otters ample time to acclimate to the influx of visitors. In March, guests can only book on weekends, but come April, Shedd representatives say there will be more availability.

Want to get your paws on an otter? Tickets are already available, but you'll have to wait until more go on sale next week, as this weekend's passes have already sold out. Check out photos of the one-of-a-kind encounter below.

Photograph: Courtesy Shedd Aquarium

Photograph: Courtesy Shedd Aquarium

Photograph: Courtesy Shedd Aquarium

Photograph: Courtesy Shedd Aquarium

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