If you’ve read any of our previous blogs on Anang, or Haley as I like to call her, you know she has recently been in her holding space recovering (beautifully!) from a fracture in her fibula. She has been doing great. She is as active as she can be, and always up for new enrichment.
Did you know that otters in the wild usually live to be about 10 years old? Haley is 17! In captivity otters can live to be up to 25, but usually 18 years is more common. The oldest North American River Otter in captivity just passed away recently and was 21 years old. Otters can live so much longer in captivity due to their daily care, veterinarian checks, dental cleanings, and well rounded diet.
Old otters can suffer from many of the same ailments as people can! Haley has arthritis in her back hips, and has for many years. She seems to be thriving in her holding area, which is really flat, with an in-ground pool that has easy access.
Since she seems to be doing well, her animal care staff has decided she will be retired from her exhibit, so we can give her a comfortable, flatter space to live in. She will remain at the Great Lakes Aquarium for the rest of her life. We are hopeful that she will live in our downstairs holding area for a few more years.
Many of you are probably wondering if she will ever get any otter friends or be introduced into another roommate. And the answer to that is no. She has seemed to really enjoy her time here alone, after Zhoosh (Clyde) passed last summer. She was so active and played so much, we had to continually up her diet to keep up with her metabolism! And, in the wild, females generally wouldn’t make new friends at her age (or an age comparable to hers in the wild, maybe 8-10). Females would stay with their families or else just go on by themselves. North American River Otters are not the most social of all of the otter species. Most males will live on their own for most of their lives, and females will stay with their family until breaking off to go on their own. So Haley’s instincts are to be alone, and she seems to be happy being alone.
Fortunately, her holding area will be visible to all of the behind the scenes tours. She will be moving to the space before the summer months, but the actual date is still unknown.
The space will accommodate her aging body in many ways. It is really quite flat, with ramps to get to any elevated areas, instead of steps, and has a nice size pool for exercise. Because of her arthritis, it is best to give her some space for exercise, but not too much to make her joints more sore.
We are excited for her to move to this space, and we hope that you will come visit her on our behind the scenes tours!