The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will open the Zoo’s new North American river otter exhibit sponsored by Sean and Nina Barth. The Grand Opening is scheduled for Saturday, September 1 at 10 a.m.
This state-of-the-art exhibit will be the home of North American river otters which are native to Central Florida. This natural environment exhibit will be home to a pair of river otters and will feature a waterfall and pond where Zoo guests can watch the otters swim and play. Children of all ages will be able to enjoy these highly interactive animals while learning about otters that are abundant in Florida’s waterways and lakes.
“We are very excited to bring North American river otters back to the Zoo. This exhibit will be a show-piece for the Zoo and the otters should be a crowd pleaser for our guests. We hope our guests will enjoy the otters’ lively antics as they swim and explore their environment,” said Bonnie Breitbeil, director of animal collections.
River otters can be found in almost any river, lake, stream, swamp, marsh, or estuary ecosystem in North America and are equally at home in the water and on land. They make their home in a burrow featuring numerous tunnels – one of which allows them to come and go from the water.
In some areas otters may be active during the day, but generally they are nocturnal. On land, they can get around and run quite well, if not as effectively as they swim. They love to playfully slide down snow-covered, icy, or muddy hills-often ending with a splash in the water. Otter families of mother and children can be seen enjoying such fun, which also teaches survival skills. They find slippery rocks and slide into the water on their bellies, or they leap in with somersaults and belly flops. They often enjoy wrestling matches with each other. When they do travel on land, they alternate running with sliding on their bellies. A river otter can slide up to 20 feet at a time at speeds of 18 miles an hour, according to National Geographic.