The search began last October for a new CMM river otter after announcing the passing of Keenan, a.k.a “Bubbles.” This search was made possible with support from the Halvosa Family, long time museum members and volunteers, and the Peters family, longtime supporters of the Estuarine Biology program.
David Moyer, Estuarine Biology Curator, reached out to rescue/rehabbers, other zoos, aquariums, and private collectors, before locating an otter rescued from legal trapping in Louisiana. The tip came from David Hamilton, Curator of Seneca Park Zoo and North American river otter stud book keeper for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Mr. Hamilton directed Moyer to Richard English of western Ohio.
Mr. English purchases live-caught otters from Louisiana trappers, where they are considered a nuisance to aquaculture operations, and are trapped and killed for their pelts. Mr. English “rescues” them and sells them to public attractions with approval and licensing by the United States Department of Agriculture. In late January, Mr. English notified Moyer that an appropriate otter had become available.
The museum had to move quickly and it was fortunate that Moyer had all the necessary permits and licenses in place. Before debarking, every state was contacted to alert them of our intentions to pick up and transport a river otter through their jurisdiction. Rather than risk shipping, Moyer decided it would be safer to personally transport the otter. A whirlwind overnight drive to Ohio with an immediate return to the museum was set in motion. Our veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Matteson with Three Notch Veterinary Hospital, volunteered to participate in the transport, thereby ensuring that any unforeseen health issues could be managed on the spot.
The new otter was observed upon their arrival at Mr. English’s establishment on January 31. He was inspected for abnormalities and health concerns and was deemed to be healthy and very receptive to feeding and being kenneled. The deal was struck, requisite paperwork signed, and the otter, dubbed Guinness, was crated for shipment and ready for the long drive to his new home. Otters can be quite vocal about their feelings – but Guinness stayed quiet for most of the trip. Although routine inspections and feedings made it clear that he did, in fact, have a voice!
After nine hours on the road, Guinness arrived at the museum on February 1, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Matteson inspected him thoroughly for medical issues and began his veterinarian-prescribed prophylaxis treatments for intestinal parasites. We are very grateful for her expertise, assistance during transport, and overall professional guidance and oversight of the health of our otter collection.
In the coming weeks, Guinness will be checked out at the first of his routine annual physicals. The aquarists will adjust medications and feed rates and gradually begin the process of physically introducing him to “Squeak”, our other male otter. Currently, the two can interact only through a wire mesh wall. While the two are learning to be together, Guinness can become familiar with his new care regime and keepers, and get acclimated to the otter habitat. The goal is to make him feel welcome and provide him with the best home possible.
Look for “Bubbles III” in the exhibit in coming weeks.