North American River Otter
This animal is not on exhibit in the habitats. It is one of our Animal Ambassadors and is used in public and school programs.
River Otters History at CuriOdyssey
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.
How long do River Otters live?
In the Wild, lifespans of North American River Otters range from 10 to 12 years on average.
In Captivity, lifespans of North American River Otter range 15 to 20 years on average. The oldest North American River Otter in captivity has lived for 26 years.
Where do River Otters live?
North American River Otters can be found near fresh water lakes, estuaries, rivers, and marshes from the coast to the mountains.
They range in North America from the Arctic Circle to Mexico.
Are River Otters endangered?
North American River Otters have been recognized as Species of Special Concern. They 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.
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