An uncommon patient arrived at Wildlife Images’ Clinic during May and has moved into its new home at the Oregon Zoo. On May 14, Oregon State Police brought in a female North American river otter. The otter was found near a construction site in Gold Beach. According to the report made to Wildlife Images, multiple attempts were made to find the mother before the otter was brought to the Merlin clinic for care.
Upon her intake exam, Patient 19-277 was estimated to be roughly six weeks old and in relatively good health. Rehabilitation and release into the wild is always the ultimate goal for all native wildlife who come to Wildlife Images for care. However, rehabilitating otters takes specific requirements and is done most successfully with other otters of a similar age. After contacting several facilities in Oregon, unfortunately none were found to have otter pups.
“Rehabilitating otters successfully takes many factors into account. To prepare an animal for release we want to make sure that it will be successful in the wild; the last thing any rehabber wants to do is send an ill-equipped animal out to fend for itself. In some circumstances the best and most humane answer is to place that animal in human care” said Cory Alvis-Allen, Animal Care and Education Team Leader at Wildlife Images.
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, as our permitting agency, decided that rehabilitation and release into the wild would not be successful. Instead, Wildlife Images’ staff started looking for an appropriate, permanent placement.
The Oregon Zoo was chosen as the permanent placement by ODFW. The Oregon Zoo has a resident river otter, Tilly, and had just received a male river otter which is two weeks younger than Patient 19-277. On Friday, the pup was transferred to the zoo, where Patient 19-277 and the other orphaned pup met each other for the first time.
“Our preference for them would have been rehab and release,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the Oregon Zoo’s Great Northwest area. “However, wildlife officials said that was not possible so we’re happy we could give them a second chance. We have a good track record with orphaned otters. Our adult otter, Tilly, was also rescued as a pup, and she’s helped raise orphans as well.”