Introducing Our Two New River Otters
As a plan more than two years in the making comes to fruition, the South Carolina Aquarium is thrilled to introduce our two newest residents, both North American river otters! As members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Aquarium participates in Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs. SSP programs oversee populations of species within AZA organizations as well as enhance the conservation of these species in the wild. The Aquarium has participated in SSP programs for many species including sand tiger sharks, seahorses and sea turtles!
Why did the Aquarium get new otters?
River otters are social animals, and they typically live in male/female pairs or all-bachelor groups. Our resident male otters, Ace and Stono, have been longtime companions at the Aquarium. Being 17 and 18 years old respectively, with a lifespan in the wild of seven to twelve years, animal care staff determined new male otters would bring lots of playful energy to the river otter habitat. In the event that either Ace or Stono pass from old age, new otters would be necessary for companionship. The Aquarium expressed our ability to continue to support the river otter SSP program in 2019 by indicating that we had space for new otters in the annual survey we complete as a member organization.
Most importantly, we know that river otters are engaging with our members and guests, and they help inspire true conservation action.
What was the process to get the otters to the Aquarium?
In September 2020, we received the recommendation to receive two male otters from Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. It was determined through conversation with both institutions that these otters’ personalities and temperaments would be a fantastic complement to those of Ace and Stono. In January 2021, two of our animal care staff traveled to Michigan to meet these two pups. The pair traveled back to Charleston with our staff and spent their first 30 days with us in quarantine, a standard practice for any animal move.
In quarantine, our new otters received plenty of food, care and playtime! They were able to become familiar with their new caretakers and acclimate to their new home. After passing a quarantine “exit exam” by our vet staff, our new guys were moved into their permanent off-exhibit holding. They were kept physically separated from Ace and Stono, but all were able to see, hear and smell each other.
Where did they come from, and what are their names?
Our two new otters were born as littermates at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan to parents Nkeke and Miles on February 9, 2020. They don’t have names yet, but we’d love for you to help us choose them! Keep an eye on our social media channels for a link to vote on your favorite names for the pair.
How are they doing in their new home, and how are Ace and Stono handling it?
Our new otters are doing great in their new home! We are still in the introduction process for these otters and are taking great care and as much time as is needed to make sure all four otters are comfortable sharing their habitat. Right now, each pair can see the other when inside, but they are still in separate enclosures. Both pairs are getting ample time in the outside exhibit!
While you may see these two new guys on exhibit during your visit, please know that they are still acclimating to their new environment, and we do not have a strict schedule for when they are on exhibit. Presently, you may see two otters, Ace and Stono OR our new guys, three otters or all four!