Oregon Zoo's basketball-playing sea otter, Eddie, dead at age 20

Eddie, a sea otter who became famous for slam dunking hoops at the Oregon Zoo, was euthanized Thursday.

The friendly 20-year-old marine mammal became internationally known "throughout his golden years, but age finally caught up to Eddie" and his health declined, zoo officials stated in a news release.

Eddie lived almost 21 years, and "was considered one of the oldest — and most talented — sea otters on the planet." He'd been at the Oregon Zoo since 2000, after being rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

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Amy Cutting, who oversees the Oregon Zoo's marine life area, said that male sea otters like Eddie "seldom live past 15 years, so Eddie was among the very oldest of his kind." She said the mammal was "quite feisty" in both his younger and recent years.

"He got along great with our two younger otters, Juno and Lincoln, and was often observed wrestling and playing with them. But he was the elder statesman of the group, and they learned to leave him alone when he wanted to rest," Cutting said.

Eddie made headlines in 2013 after a video of him playing basketball in a pool went viral. He would toss a toy ball into a hoop "as therapy for his arthritic elbow joints."

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Sea otters are an endangered species and are considered "threatened," according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The animal is listed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which protects all marine mammals from being harassed, hunted, captured or killed.