Fort Lauderdale‘s Museum of Discovery and Science is a true haven for family entertainment, offering a variety of activities, programs and events. What some may not know is that the Museum is also home to many animals. The newest residents are four North American river otters. Visitors can view the otters and watch their playful antics through a two-story-high window plus enjoy daily Otter Talks. These amazing creatures live in the museum‘s lush Otters at Play outdoor exhibit where they can swim and dive in a six-foot-deep pool, play in the grass of a river bank, frolic in a waterfall or take a snooze in a hollow log.
Daily Otter Talks give visitors the opportunity to meet the otter keepers and learn more about North American river otters. Guests can ask questions about the preservation of mammals, learn more about our otters’ playful nature, and hear about the special care they receive at the museum during daily Otter Talks at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Resident otters — Joey, Marlin, Linus, and Jafar — receive loving care from otter keeper, Staci Stafford, and aquarist, Laura Eldredge. Each day the otters and their caretakers have a specific regime. Otters are “crepuscular” animals which means they are most active at dusk and dawn. First thing in the morning, the otters are provided with a medley of Herring, Smelt, and Capelin fish. Over the course of the day, each otter eats about two pounds of “sushi”delights. The keepers are very meticulous about preparing a nutritious diet, which is crucial to the health of the otters. After gobbling up their seafood meal, the otters are released into the Otters at Play Exhibit where they play and nap in view of museum visitors.
After they return to their inside quarters to settle in for the evening, Linus is often seen toting a towel around his enclosure. Much like Linus, the blanket clad boy of the comic Peanuts, “Linus the Otter” takes pleasure in the comfort of a soft towel. When he first arrived to the museum, he was named Booboo. Stafford explains, “We thought his name was pretty cheesy, and Linus was suitable since he loves towels so much.”
As the otters play, Stafford and Eldredge work behind the scenes. Scrubbing down the otter containments, a daily duty, ensures the cleanliness and comfort of the otters’ life at the museum. All four of our otters were rescued from a flawed living situation and brought to the Museum to live like princes. Joey, an orphaned otter, came to the museum without the necessary skills to swim. Otters, unlike other animals, do not swim instinctually. They are taught to swim by their mothers. Because Joey was orphaned at a very early age he never learned to swim – he had to be taught by museum staff. Slowly introducing Joey to swimming, he first ventured into puddles, then the exhibit’s river, and after several weeks of coaching he finally swam freely in deep water with his fellow otters. The keepers also train the otters with additional skills through implementation of target training methods. Targeting training teaches the otters to perform a specific behavior when provided with a visual aid, or target.
Anyone can support the otter ambassadors by making a donation of $10 by texting the word OTTER to 20222. You will need to confirm your donation by replying with the word YES. Messaging and data rates may apply.
SOURCE Museum of Discovery & Science