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River Otter Rescue

Cape Wildlife Center returns orphaned otter to the wild

Kind News magazine, Aug/Sept 2015

  • An orphaned river otter grows and learns in a special habitat built for her at Cape Wildlife Center. Photo by Heather Fone

The tiny, terrified river otter cried out for her mother. But her mom wouldn't be returning to her pup. Luckily, some people in the area heard the orphaned otter's sad cries.

At only about 2 months old, she was too young to survive on her own. Cape Wildlife Center would become her home until she learned the necessary skills to live in the wild.

Workers at the center built the otter her own special habitat. It had tunnels, ramps, a pool and other items she could use to learn natural otter behaviors.

Keeping her wild

As the months went by, the otter grew strong and glossy-coated. Care was taken to keep her from becoming too comfortable around people.

"At first she would run along the habitat fencing, following caregivers who went by," says center director Deborah Millman. But as she grew, her caregivers limited her time around humans.

"By the time she was 6 months old, she would hide from and often growl at people who got too close to her habitat," says Millman."Those are natural, healthy behaviors for a wild otter."

By late March, the otter was strong and independent enough to be on her own. A habitat with lots of water to swim in and fish to eat was chosen for her release. When the door to her carrier was opened, she scampered down the bank, slipped into the water and set out to begin her new life.

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