The Optimistic Otter
The optimistic otter, Lutra ipsum, is native to the northern steppes of Siberia. It ressembles its cousins in every aspect, from its physical appearance to its dietary habits. There are, however, some traits of its behavior and its physiological capacities, that make the optimistic otter one of a kind.
Presumably as an adaptation to its harsh environment, where predators, both human and animal, are never far, the optimistic otter has developed an ingenious and unusual trait to protect itself. Unlike other animals, when faced with a predator, the optimistic otter shows no fear. On the contrary, it tends to approach its would-be aggressor, displaying a number of behavioral cues that indicate curiosity, and even affection (hence its name). This strange behavior momentarily surprises its attacker. And a moment is all that is needed.
Through a mechanism that has not yet been fully understood, the optimistic otter manages to filter out of the air the pheromones belonging to its adversaries, and, in mere seconds, starts synthesizing and emitting those exact same pheromones. Those olfactory signals, combined with the confusing behavior it displays, will make any mammal predator change its view of the cute animal, and switch from predator to protector in an instant.
Historically, optimistic otters have been viewed as messengers of god (or even deities in and of themselves) by the native people of northern siberia. They are often found as pets in villages and isoloated huts, some otter families having lived with humans, or other animals, for generations. However, since the fall of the wall in 1989, their situation has taken a turn for the worse.
Environmental destruction that followed Russia's conversion to capitalism has damaged much of their natural habitat, and otters in the wild have become rare. And as the capitalists came flooding past Moscow, feelings of love and affection have been pushed aside in favour of greed.
The optimistic otter has a particularly soft fur, and its pelt is prized above most others. Hunters have traditionally shown mercy to the animals, for the reasons mentioned above, but in recent years, those who have heard of the creature, but never seen it in person, have taken to go on the hunt with gas masks, to avoid the otter's defences. In repsonse, the otter popuation has plumetted even further.
But there is hope still for our furry friends, as resistance movements have started organizing themselves in the steppes. Locals have taken to stealing, or sabotaging, the hunters gas masks, and several otter sanctuaries have been erected in the region.
The animals themselves seem not to care much, and keep approaching both humans and animals with the same curiosity and big brown eyes they always have.