Zoo Animals

Detroit Zoo - Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat

Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat

The Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat provides a naturalistic environment for our river otters and features an 5,900-gallon pool complete with waterfall and waterslide.

The habitat is designed so that visitors – including small children – can watch the long-bodied mammals swimming and playing at eye level.

The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) can weigh 20-30 pounds, and its slender, cylindrical body can reach 2-3 feet in length. The aquatic mammal sports short, dense, waterproof fur and profuse whiskers. The playful river otter is swift on land as well as in the water, though its loping trot can look somewhat ungainly compared to its graceful slide through the water.

Once abundant in U.S. and Canadian rivers, lakes and coastal areas, river otter populations have suffered significant declines as a result of fur trapping, water pollution, habitat destruction, pesticides and other threats. Today, they can be found in parts of Canada, the Northwest, the upper Great Lakes area, New England and Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.