Tilly the Otter Teaches her Scion to Swim


Scion is a noun meaning a descendant, child, or heir. It comes from the Old French word cion, which means “Sprout.” Much like a tiny sprout that grows out of a larger plant, a scion is usually seen as a continuation of a family.

The word “Scion” is often associated with the children of the rich and powerful, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. The word “Scion” implies something being inherited or passed on. Sometimes it’s money, but often, what’s being passed on is something less physical: something like knowledge.

A scion can also refer to a grandchild, great grandchild, and so on. For example, “Jonathan the Third is the scion of his wealthy grandfather, Jonathan the First.” The important part is that, either in a literal or in a figurative sense, the scion is some sort of heir, or descendant.

In this video, we see how a mother otter, Tilly, teaches her scion, young Molalla, how to swim.

Technically, any child could be considered a scion, but it is usually meant to mean something closer to “Child and heir.” In this video, Tilly is passing something very important onto Molalla: the ability to swim.

Otters are one animal you would think wouldn’t need swimming lessons: after all, they spend a huge part of their lives in the water. You could even say they were born to do it. But, just like humans, even if you’re naturally good at something, you still have to learn how. Tilly, the mother otter, is passing on the knowledge of how to swim to her scion.

Tilly, most likely, learned how to swim from her mother. That’s the way inheritance works: knowledge is passed from a parent onto their scion, who then passes it on to their scion.

The way an otter passes on knowledge to swim may seem a little strange. Tilly grabs the back of her scion’s neck and pulls him underwater. This may seem cruel, but the bite is gentle—Tilly is just holding her son in place, and dunking him under water to get used to swimming.

In a few weeks, little Molalla will be swimming on her own, and Tilly will have prepared her young scion to travel freely over land and through the water.


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