Best Otter-Watching Orange County 2007 - Aquarium of the Pacific
Top three cutest animals ever? Cats, sea otters and ducks. In that order. (No arguing.) Luckily for us, while you once had to journey a few hundred miles north to Monterey Bay to otter-watch, we've got our very own aquarium not too far away in Long Beach. Opened in 1998, the nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific boasts a more-than-humble collection of 12,500 animals, all focusing on creatures that call the Pacific Ocean home. While the aquarium is still fairly young, it's actually flourishing quite well, with just more than 1.3 million visitors each year, helping to make Long Beach a family tourist destination. One of the most popular exhibits at the aquarium features Charlie, Brooke and Summer: Rescued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the three sea otters dip, dive, eat and snooze their way through the days, with the full knowledge that there's a room full of men, women and children cooing at their every move. Even if they're doing absolutely nothing at all. And to top it all off, the aquarium unveiled plans for an upgrade to their habitat in late June, including even more interactive and educational kiosks, flat screens, an improved water-quality system, and?most curiously?some type of water-jet system so that guests can join in on otter mealtimes.