Discover Utah houses some of Utah’s threatened and endangered species such as June Suckers and least chub. The largest exhibit features three male North American River Otters which will serve to educate visitors about river otters, otter reintroduction efforts, and release locations in Utah. Families can learn all about the importance of preserving and protecting Utah’s waterways as they explore and experience this exhibit.
Feature Exhibits Include:
Undeniably cute, the river otter is a notoriously playful member of the weasel family. They love to swim, slip and slide, whether in the mud during summer or the snow in winter. They have even been observed playing tag and “juggling” pebbles with their front paws! The river otters come to us from the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, New York. They were born in March 2010 to wild-caught parents from Louisiana, where populations are so healthy that nuisance animals are often caught for relocation. Trained aquarists encourage the otters to demonstrate their species-typical behavior, allow them to exercise control or choice over their environment, and to enhance their well-being by offering them a variety of novel experiences. Enrichment items comprise of different categories including olfactory (new smells), manipulative (something to play with such as food hidden inside something), habitat (new logs or rocks in the enclosure), food (like occasional treats they don’t see very often) and more.
At one time, river otters were found throughout most of Utah's waterways. Early records report regular sightings of otters. Large quantities of otter were known to live in the streams of Utah in the 1830’s. It was soon after this that otters seemed to disappear from Utah's rivers, probably due to habitat degradation, water pollution and unregulated trapping during settlement times. Since the start of the 20th century, River Otters have not been abundant in Utah and are protected by the Utah Wildlife Code. Trapping and hunting North American River Otters is currently prohibited.
The River Otter Exhibit is sponsored by George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.
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