Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wild otter checks itself into the Jacksonville zoo

When the keepers shut down the otter exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Sunday, they left one otter out in the exhibit overnight.
When they came back to open up Monday morning, there were two.
Nope, there wasn’t a birth. A wild North American river otter had found its way in to make itself part of the exhibit.
Craig Miller, curator of mammals, said that’s the first time he’s heard of that happening at the zoo.
"We get birds or squirrels coming in, of course," but never this.
He’s not exactly sure how the otter got in, but the exhibit is primarily designed to make sure the animals inside don’t get out. There’s a gently sloped hill behind the exhibit, and he figures maybe the otter climbed that and squeezed between the gate and the fence.
Once it got to the top of the wall, there was a six- or eight-foot jump down to the water.
Then there’s the question of why. Otters aren’t particularly social, Miller said, and both the wild and captive animals are male. But there were two females back in the holding area.

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