It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Nestle, a resident Animal Ambassador for the North American river otter. At 17-years of age, Nestle was eased from her suffering surrounded by her keepers on June 16. The Animal Care Team became concerned when Nestle experienced a loss of appetite which was quickly followed by signs of respiratory distress. After diagnostic blood work and x-rays, a course of treatment was determined. Unfortunately, Nestle did not respond to treatment and her condition continued to worsen. Wildlife Images’ staff veterinarian Dr. Erin Lane and the Animal Care Team decided her quality of life had reached a point where euthanasia was the most humane choice.
The Queen of Critter Creek
Nestle delighted guests for nearly a decade as the Queen of Critter Creek. This former Hollywood actress retired to Wildlife Images in March 2011.
During her time with animal talent agency Birds & Animals Unlimited, Nestle was most notably in the Steve Carell movie Evan Almighty. She played both the male and female otter role in the modern day telling of the biblical story of Noah.
The original plan for Nestle and her Critter Creek home was to have a family of otters live together. Ever the Hollywood diva, Nestle made it clear she wanted the space, and the limelight all to herself. While she tolerated white fish, her favorite food was salmon and shrimp. She would often play for hours to get a final piece of salmon out of a puzzle feeder or ignore her veggies and look longing at her keepers in attempts to earn another shrimp. As part of her enrichment program, Nestle would occasionally get feeder fish.
These tiny minnows would often escape the fate one might guess as Nestle almost seemed to make friends with the fish.Nestle loved enrichment, especially when it involved food. Otters are extremely smart and dexterous, both of which Nestle used when searching for hidden snacks or when digging through a special birthday gift.
An actress to the end, Nestle was a long time favorite of visitors as she put on a show at her viewing windows. She would often put her paw up to a child’s hand or give the most perfect otter eyes to woo her fans. However, Nestle’s keepers knew this star valued her personal space and would let you know if you came to close.
“Nestle was the reason I began my volunteer adventure at Wildlife Images. I made sure that when I switched jobs that they would work around my volunteer schedule because I didn’t want to miss my time with her. Once all of my duties were done, I always made sure to run back down to critter creek and spend time with my girl.” – Wildlife Images Volunteer
“She was an amazing ambassador river otter that inspired thousands of guests, volunteers, interns, and staff.” – Wildlife Images Staff Member
“Everytime I visited her she always seemed excited to see me. Her windows were always dirty because she would put her paw and nose up to them to say hello. Sometimes she even did a little dance! Eventually she would go back to the log or the big rock in her enclosure and pose – proudly with her chin up – ready for her close up!” – Wildlife Images Member
“We would drive from Eugene just to see her. She was the sweetest thing!” – Wildlife Images Guest
In memorial to Nestle and her impact on guests as an educational Animal Ambassador we invite guests to continue visiting Critter Creek.
To make a gift in Nestle’s honor use the donation allocation “Nestle Memorial Fund.” All donations will go to ensure the Animal Ambassadors at Wildlife Images have the best quality of life and continue to inspire children and adults alike.