Otters settle in swimmingly inside new habitat at North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Otters settle in swimmingly inside new habitat at North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A new family of otters settled in swimmingly at a new habitat at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Asta, Oscar, Tritan and Ray can be seen in the habitat daily from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The four are made up of small-clawed Asian otter parents and their two children.

Associate director of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Brian Dorn, hopes guests will visit the aquarium to see the family.

“We want to see you enjoy them and become part of their story,” he said. “This is an animal that needs their story told for conservation reasons. They are vulnerable. Their habitat is being destroyed. We really want to tell their story as much as we can so that people make that personal connection and go out and find ways to make sure that these animals are on the planet for many many decades to come.”

Dorn said they’ve already captured his heart.

“I am a marine biologist and a fish guy by heart but these guys, I mean, any otter is cute but these are particularly cute, cute otters,” Dorn said.

Otter Training at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Caring for our new otter family requires more than a lovely expansive habitat. It also means focused attention on the animals’ long-term care and well-being. Medardo, our primary otter care giver, has been working with Asta, Oscar, Triton and Ray for months on specific behaviors. Watch as he targets the animals to different stations and activities through positive reinforcement. This assists with daily observations and veterinary exams—climbing the kennel allows our team to easily view and access their chest, bellies and tails. The otters always have a choice to participate in these sessions and you can see Asta join the fun at the 1:15 mark.

Posted by NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher on Saturday, December 5, 2020

If you don’t think they could be any cuter, you should know they nap in what Brian Dorn calls a “cuddle puddle.”

Guests can even interact with the family through a splash pad and by crawling up to a dome window, which makes visitors feel like they are in the exhibit.

“These orders are so friendly and used to interacting with their keepers,” he said. “Often times, you can go up to the window and they will run right up to the window and jump up with their paws and interact with the guests that way. It’s pretty cool.”

Otter Superfan

How close can you get to otters at the Aquarium? Let our friend and otter super-fan Claire and her little sister Ruby show you. Not only did the girls delight in meeting the new Asian small-clawed otters and seeing them play, they also learned more about them from Savannah, a member of the otters’ care team. You can visit Asta, Oscar, Tritan and Ray daily from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Please note, there may be additional unscheduled times when the animals are off habitat for feedings or care.

Posted by NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

He said it’s also enjoyable to watch them play.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors to the aquarium must wear masks and practice social distancing. Hand-sanitizing stations are also set up around the facility.

For guests who are not ready to visit in person, a virtual program, called Luna’s Holiday Special, is planned for Saturday, Dec. 12. It will feature Luna, the albino alligator, and the other creatures at the aquarium, including the otters.

More information can be found here.

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