Rescued near a gas station in Tampa, Florida, a baby North American river otter has made his way to Denver, Colorado: his new home.
The otter was first taken to a local Florida wildlife sanctuary, Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, where he was named Oliver. After spending a few weeks there, Oliver arrived Friday at the Denver Downtown Aquarium, where he will live permanently.
Oliver, who is about 11 weeks old, began his journey to Denver with Porter aboard a FedEx jet last week. The blizzard in Denver forced the jet to ground in Memphis, where Oliver “received star treatment” at the FedEx world hub, with his own pool, and a shrimp and salmon dinner. When DIA reopened, Oliver was able to land safely.
The sanctuary determined that Oliver had become too accustomed to human interaction and it would be dangerous for him to be released back into the wild. Instead, it sought alternative options for his new home.
“Though it would have been ideal for him to be released in the Florida environment, I couldn’t have found a more spectacular home for an orphan that will always hold a place in my heart,” Kris Porter of the Owl’s Nest Sanctuary said in a news release Monday.
The Downtown Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has two otters in existing exhibits.
Oliver’s familiarity with humans will allow the staff to continue to work hands-on with him. The aquarium hopes Oliver will later allow guests to interact with him so people can learn more about the threatened river otter species.
“Facilities like ours take pride in supporting conservation of wildlife through working with facilities like the Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, so we can give animals like Oliver a second chance to live out their lives and be ambassadors to their species,” said Jim Prappas, director of animal husbandry for Landry’s Inc., which owns the Denver aquarium.
Prappas said Oliver won’t be added to the exhibit officially for about a year and needs to be kept separate from the other otters until he is older.
“That kind of stuff isn’t always black and white. He’s still young,” Prappas said. “But he’s already doing great. He’s already up to his young antics and is eating and responding well to staff. He’s very bright, which makes this training process much easier.”
Happy Ottersday :#)