Archive: Celebrate World Otter Day at the Detroit Zoo May 29

Activities focus on conservation of these otterly amazing animals

May 22, 2019

Royal Oak 

Join the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) for a celebration of World Otter Day on Wednesday, May 29, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Detroit Zoo’s Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat. Through engaging activities, visitors can learn more about the role otters play in the environment, the threats they’re facing in the wild, and what the DZS is doing to help, including the rescue stories of North American river otters Kalee and Whisker.

“River otter populations have declined due to fur trapping, water pollution, habitat destruction, pesticides and other threats,” said Randi Meyerson, DZS deputy chief life sciences officer. “This event gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about the risks otters face in the wild and the work the Detroit Zoological Society is doing to save them.”

Guests will have the chance to learn about the important adaptations these semiaquatic mammals develop to help them function in their environment. Through a sensory exercise involving goggles, flippers and nose plugs, visitors will be able to experience life from an otter’s perspective. Data collection opportunities will be available using Detroit Zoo Treks, an interactive mobile map system offering guests guided routes through the Zoo. The Animal Observation Trek encourages young visitors to build perception skills while noting animal behaviors. Zookeeper talks will take place at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The DZS provides sanctuary to Kalee, a 1-year-old female river otter who was found injured on an Alaskan hiking trail in June 2018. The Zoo is also home to Sparky, 5, and his parents Whisker, 16, and Lucius, 13. Whisker was rescued from underneath a house in Washington in 2009. The habitat recently underwent a major expansion and renovation that tripled the size of the space for the otters and provided them with an outdoor oasis complete with a flowing stream, sandy beach and tall trees.

Although otters are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, U.S. and Canadian populations that were once abundant are now facing serious population declines. The DZS is also working to conserve Eurasian otters in Armenia, where their population has fallen dramatically in recent years, but little has been recorded about their status in the region. DZS scientists are working to assess their population and identify important areas for protection.