After five months of rehabilitation, The Wild Center released two female North American river otters in the Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station, a 15,000-acre biological field research station in the Western Adirondacks, on Thursday, Oct. 8.
This otter rehabilitation, a first for The Wild Center, began in May after receiving phone calls from residents in two separate areas within the North Country that had each spotted a five-week-old abandoned pup in the wild. Wild Center curator, Leah Valerio, and the rest of the Animal Care staff worked hand-in-hand with local veterinarian Dr. Nina Schoch to retrieve the pups and transport them to the Center’s facilities in Tupper Lake, N.Y.
After spending the requisite month in our wildlife quarantine space, the otters spent their time at The Wild Center learning how to swim and dive, groom their fur, and hunt for fish – skills they would have learned from their mother in the wild. Wild Center staff tracked their progress through live video programs which can be accessed at wildcenter.org/pupdates.
As the seasons changed, the otters were successfully released back into the wild. The Shingle Shanty Preserve will provide an excellent home for the otters. This land includes nine lakes and ponds over acres of hardwood forest, as well as 2,000 acres of wetlands which make the location invaluable to regional biodiversity.
Steve Langdon, Director of Shingle Shanty and an adjunct professor at Clarkson University said, “We picked this spot because of its remoteness. It’s about 15 or 20 miles from the nearest road. The wetland area is also a perfect otter habitat. I’ve been observing otters in this area for the past decade.”
About The Wild Center’s Otter Program
The Wild Center staff are experts in the care of North American River Otters. In 2017, ZooNation, an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation, named The Wild Center as one of the 10 Best Otter Exhibits in the world. The Center is currently home to five otters: Louie, Scarlett, Squirt, Tawi:ne and Rohsno:re.
“Visitors say that the otters are one of the reasons they come back to visit us over and over again,” Valerio said. “They know their names, they know their stories, they know their ages… They really fall in love with the otters and that’s great because it inspires a lot of people to care about nature and wildlife.”