Thursday, July 25, 2024

Get otter here! It’s true, otters are coming to N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher in 2019

The Fort Fisher Aquarium is preparing to become the new home to several otters (Port City Daily photo/ CORY MANNION)
The Fort Fisher Aquarium is preparing to become the new home to several otters. (Port City Daily photo/ CORY MANNION)

KURE BEACH — Otters are on the way to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, with plans to break ground for a new exhibit in 2019 featuring several Asian small-clawed otters.

“The majority of animals in the care of the aquarium sport scales rather than fur. Yet, caring for the energetic and exceptionally engaging mammals will allow the team to help the species (Aonyx cinerea), listed as vulnerable on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and share a critical conservation story,” according to aquarium spokeswoman Robin Nalepa.

Initially, the aquarium plans to care for two or three otters.

“The new Asian small-clawed otter habitat will be built within the aquarium’s current freshwater conservatory building as a renovation of existing space. Interactive water elements, space for separate otter family groups and behind-the-scenes care areas are all part of the approximately 3,000-square-foot habitat,” Nalepa said.

Construction is planned to begin in January and will last about six months; the project will cost $1.2 million and funding is provided through private donations, the North Carolina Aquarium Society, and aquarium revenue.

According to a press release, “Asian small-clawed otters are native to India, Southeast Asia, and southern China and are considered a ‘vulnerable’ species due to habitat loss, loss of prey species and exploitation. Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of the 13 different otter species and are found in small streams, rivers, marshes, mangroves and other aquatic environments.”


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