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North American River Otter
The two river otters came to the facility in November 2009. Both otters, a male and a female, were born in the spring of 2009.
The female otter was captive born and came from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO after they decided they needed a different mix of otter personalities for their exhibit. The male otter was born in the wild in Washington, but was abandoned by his mother as an infant. He was found and briefly raised in a family’s home before being sent to Raptor House Rehabilitation Center in Washington. The rehab center determined that he was too imprinted on humans and could not be released back into the wild.
In the Wild: 10-12 years
In Captivity: Up to 23 years.
Near fresh water, from the coast to the mountains.
North America from the Arctic Circle to Mexico.
Species of Special Concern. North American River Otters are listed in CITES Appendix II.* They are not endangered because they range through all of North America from the Arctic Circle to Mexico. However, their huge food requirements mean the population is never numerous in any area, and they have been wiped out from much of their former range. Otters are hunted for their fur in many areas, and overhunting leads to much of their decline. However, habitat loss and pollution (especially heavy metals) have been more serious factors recently. After cleaning up polluted waterways, several states are successfully reintroducing otters to areas where they had been exterminated.
* CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international governmental agreement designed to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Appendix II lists species that may become threatened with extinction unless trade is closely controlled.