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Otters in Major American Zoos

Discussion in 'United States' started by snowleopard, 22 Oct 2021.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Abbotsford, B.C., Canada
    The book that I cowrote, titled America’s Top 100 Zoos & Aquariums, contains reviews and photos of 80 zoos and 20 aquariums. There are 68 out of the 80 zoos with a type of otter, and 15 out of the 20 aquariums with otters. That means that 83% of the zoos and aquariums in the book have otters, with some facilities having more than one species. (A special thanks to both @EsserWarrior and @TinoPup in compiling the otter information)

    The 11 lists that I've completed this year:

    71 out of the 80 zoos have giraffes
    68 out of the 80 zoos have otters (plus 15 out of 20 aquariums)
    66 out of the 80 zoos have zebras
    61 out of the 80 zoos have rhinos
    54 out of the 80 zoos have elephants
    48 out of the 80 zoos have penguins (plus 16 out of 20 aquariums)
    47 out of the 80 zoos have orangutans
    45 out of the 80 zoos have gorillas
    35 out of the 80 zoos have pinnipeds (plus 12 out of 20 aquariums)
    25 out of the 80 zoos have chimpanzees (plus 7 zoos have bonobos)
    22 out of the 80 zoos have common hippos (plus 12 have pygmy hippos)

    Here are the 83 zoos and aquariums (in the book) with otters:

    North American River Otter (50 holders)

    ABQ BioPark
    Akron
    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
    Audubon
    Birmingham
    Brookfield
    Buffalo
    Caldwell
    Cameron Park
    Cheyenne Mountain
    Cincinnati
    Columbus
    Detroit
    Florida Aquarium
    Fort Wayne
    Fort Worth
    Gladys Porter
    Henry Vilas
    Houston
    John Ball
    Kansas City
    Knoxville
    Lincoln Park
    Little Rock
    Maryland
    Miami
    Milwaukee County
    Minnesota
    Montgomery
    North Carolina
    Oakland
    Oklahoma City
    Oregon
    Pittsburgh
    Riverbanks
    Roger Williams Park
    Rosamond Gifford
    Sacramento
    Saint Louis
    San Francisco
    Seattle Aquarium
    Sedgwick County
    Smithsonian’s National Zoo
    Tampa
    Tennessee Aquarium
    Texas State Aquarium
    Toledo
    Topeka
    Tulsa
    Utah's Hogle

    Asian Small-clawed Otter (27 holders)
    Audubon
    Bronx
    Brookfield
    Cleveland
    Columbus
    Dallas
    Denver
    Disney's Animal Kingdom
    Georgia Aquarium
    Jacksonville
    Kansas City
    Houston
    Lincoln Park
    Memphis
    Miami
    Omaha
    Point Defiance
    San Antonio
    Santa Barbara
    SeaWorld Orlando
    SeaWorld San Antonio
    SeaWorld San Diego
    Smithsonian’s National Zoo
    Tanganyika Wildlife Park
    Virginia
    Wildlife World
    Woodland Park

    Sea Otter (12 holders)
    Aquarium of the Pacific (nereis)
    Georgia Aquarium (nereis)
    Minnesota Zoo (kenyoni)
    Monterey Bay Aquarium (nereis)
    New York Aquarium (nereis, kenyoni)
    Oregon Coast Aquarium (nereis)
    Oregon Zoo (nereis)
    Pittsburgh Zoo (kenyoni)
    Point Defiance Zoo (nereis, kenyoni)
    Seattle Aquarium (kenyoni)
    SeaWorld San Diego (nereis)
    Shedd Aquarium (nereis, kenyoni)

    Giant Otter (10 holders)
    Atlanta
    Birmingham
    Dallas World Aquarium
    Houston
    Jacksonville
    Los Angeles
    Miami
    Moody Gardens
    Philadelphia
    Roger Williams Park

    Spotted-necked Otter (7 holders)
    Fresno Chaffee
    Little Rock
    Omaha
    Phoenix
    Reid Park
    San Diego
    SeaWorld San Antonio

    Here are the 12 zoos that do not have otters:

    Binder Park
    Busch Gardens
    Central Park
    Como Park
    El Paso
    Great Plains
    Honolulu
    Indianapolis
    Living Desert
    Louisville
    Nashville
    San Diego Zoo Safari Park

    Here are the 5 aquariums that do not have otters:

    Adventure Aquarium
    California Academy of Sciences
    Mystic Aquarium
    National Aquarium
    New England Aquarium

    Choosing my favourite otter exhibits out of over 100 examples was a daunting task, as there are so many otter enclosures that are all quite similar. In the end, I went down the list and came up with a dozen that really stood out to me from my memory of visiting the zoo or aquarium. I’ve personally seen 11 out of these 12 exhibits, with only Houston (a brand-new exhibit) one that I’m evaluating from photos.

    My 12 favourite otter exhibits (in alphabetical order):

    Buffalo (NARO)
    Houston (giant otter)
    Los Angeles (giant otter)
    Maryland (NARO)
    Miami (giant otter)
    Minnesota (sea otter)
    Moody Gardens (giant otter)
    Oakland (NARO)
    Oregon Coast Aquarium (sea otter)
    Oregon Zoo (sea otter)
    Smithsonian’s National Zoo (Asian small-clawed otter)
    Woodland Park (NARO)
     
    Last edited: 23 Oct 2021
  2. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    The Central Park Zoo used to have river otters. When did that change? Was the snow leopard exhibit built on the former otter exhibit footprint?
     
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yes, the snow leopard exhibit (2009) was built on the old river otter area. When I visited Central Park Zoo in the summer of 2008 the otters had gone and so the zoo hasn't had otters in a very long time now.

    Of the other zoos lacking otters, Indianapolis Zoo had Asian small-clawed otters mixed with gibbons until recently, but now it seems that the otters are no longer at the zoo. There's no excuse for a zoo not to have otters (;)), as those animals make for wonderful displays for the public and they are inexpensive to maintain in captivity. (Although sea otters might cost a bit in food consumption)
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2021
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  4. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Smithsonian's NARO exhibit also looks good IMO, it reminds me of both the ASCO exhibit at the same zoo and of the NARO exhibits you highlighted, albeit with a smaller pool space.

    [​IMG]
    Photo credit to @BeardsleyZooFan

    Given some past conflicts and unfortunate incidents when mixing otters and primates, I personally lean towards Indy having a pretty good excuse for phasing them out - although I suppose they could potentially carve out a standalone otter exhibit in that Forest section. Of course, I have no idea if this has anything to do with why they're gone or if there were any problems with mixing them at that particular zoo.
     
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  5. Aardwolf

    Aardwolf Well-Known Member

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    The best otter exhibits that I've seen are the ones in which the designers remembered that otters aren't furry fish - they do spend plenty of time on land when given the chance. I've always gotten a kick out of seeing otters climb low branches, dig in dirt, and do other things besides just loop back and forth in a pool. The worst otter exhibits I've seen have tended to be museum habitats where the planners wanted a live animal attraction, they knew what they wanted the visitor to see, but they didn't know how to build for the animals.

    Unrelated, I was sorry to see Toledo doesn't have the spot-necks anymore (it's been a while since I was there). I enjoyed that exhibit.
     
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  6. robbare

    robbare Active Member

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  7. Julio C Castro

    Julio C Castro Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Los Angeles
    One of the jewels from the recent master plans at the LA Zoo brought forth a fantastic habitat for giant otters, one of the highlights of the mixed received Rainforest of the Americas. The otters have non stop fun, entertaining guests as well as having added enrichment of a piranha tank by the biggest pool. I do hope the upper level opens up again soon, it give a good panoramic view of their home and seeing 3 sleek otters sliding down is always a crowd pleaser!