North American River Otter

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North American River Otter

Discover Utah

Undeniably cute, the river otter is a notoriously playful member of the weasel family. They love to swim, slip and slide, whether in the mud during summer or the snow in winter. They have even been observed playing tag and "juggling" pebbles with their front paws!! Three male river otters are included among the Utah species featured in the Discover Utah Gallery. They come to us from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, NY where they were born March 5, 2010 to wild-caught parents from Louisiana, where populations are so healthy that nuisance animals are often caught for relocation.

At one time, river otters were found throughout most of Utah’s waterways. Early records report regular sightings of otters. Large quantities of Otter were known to live in the streams of Utah in the 1830’s. It was soon after this that otters seemed to disappear from Utah’s rivers, probably due to habitat degradation, water pollution and unregulated trapping during settlement times. Since the start of the 20th century, River Otters have not been abundant in Utah and are protected by the Utah Wildlife Code. Trapping and hunting North American River Otters is currently prohibited. The exhibit is designed to educate visitors about river otters, otter reintroduction efforts, and release locations in Utah. Preview the otters in their new habitat here:

Shortly after the exhibit opened a naming contest was held for the three young otters. The contest began March 15, 2012 and ended on April 15, 2012 at 6:30pm. After nearly 1,500 entries in the Aquarium’s river otters naming contest, "Oscar, Oliver, and Otis", one of 5 sets of names from which to chose, won by more than 42%. From the winning entries, a random winner was drawn: Kelli Pringle, of Morgan, UT. She won a $50 Visa gift card, a $50 gift card to The Living Planet Aquarium, 6 admission tickets to the Aquarium and a chance for her and five of her closest friends to go behind-the-scenes to witness an otter feeding with an Aquarium biologist. Congratulations, Kelli!

Oscar, Oliver, and Otis are available for public viewing daily between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., though they may be off exhibit periodically depending on their needs or for training purposes.

The river otter exhibit is made possible by:
George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation