Happy World Otter Day!
North American river otters are known for their playful antics. Unlike sea otters, river otters are equally at home on land and in the water. They dig burrows near the water’s edge. These burrows feature numerous tunnels that allow them to go to and from the water.
North American river otters can be found throughout Canada and the United States, except for portions of the Southwest and Colorado River delta areas. In California, the largest concentration of river otters can be found in the Suisun Marsh, about 40 miles south of Sacramento.
River otters were heavily hunted for their pelts in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, the population has rebuilt and is currently not threatened. That said, researchers are concerned about the North American river otter’s ability to adapt as humans continue to encroach on their habitat.
The Sacramento Zoo is home to its very own romp, or group of otters – eight-year-old Jackson and six-year-old Kai. The otters are brimming with personality! Kai is very smart, playful, and creative. She always finds the best nesting materials and rearranges her nest regularly to her satisfaction. Some fun items she’s included in her nest layout are enrichment items, different leaves and sticks, wood, wool, and cardboard boxes. Jackson is fun, food-motivated, and always moving at top speed. He’s quite the acrobatic otter and will sometimes climb logs and trees in his exhibit to find fish his keepers have hidden in extra hard-to-find places. Kai’s favorite foods include mice, hard-boiled egg, and trout. Jackson is not a picky eater, but he especially loves all fish.
Like most otters, Jackson and Kai are smart and inquisitive. They love exploring new enrichment items added to their habitat by their keepers including new furniture, hiding spots, and toys. The otters often immediately drag new items, no matter how big, into their pool with them.
On your next visit to the Sacramento Zoo, take a moment to visit Jackson and Kai. Their antics are sure to brighten your day.