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Sporting sea creatures compete in mini 'Olympics' at Japanese aquarium

This photo shows a walrus holding up a paper barbell at Toba Aquarium in Toba, Mie Prefecture. (Kazushige Hayashi)

TOBA, Mie -- With the Tokyo Games having kicked off on July 23, an aquarium here has been holding its own Olympics, except the "athletes" showcasing their abilities are the animals.

    Walruses, sea otters and other animals at Toba Aquarium in Mie Prefecture have been demonstrating their skills in eight sports at the "Toba-lympics" shows. Competitions are held based on their skills normally displayed during regular shows, and their behavior observed during viewing hours.

    A weightlifting walrus gripped a barbell made of paper labeled "3 tons" in its mouth, and raised it effortlessly after getting a cue from a staff member. The performance garnered a large round of applause from visitors. Meanwhile, a sea otter showed off "dunk shots" by throwing shells into a bucket done up like a basketball net.

    Other events include a Steller sea lion high jump, a penguin obstacle race, Baikal seal artistic swimming, a sea lion ball game, finless porpoise soccer, and a show where Harris's hawks, owls and other birds of prey fly through hoops and try other events putting their special skills to use. The animal Olympics shows will continue through Sept. 20.

    (Japanese original by Kazushige Hayashi)

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