Detroit Zoo takes in rescued otter pup from Alaska


A 7-month-old otter now calls the Detroit Zoo home after being rescued in June by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). 

The orphaned pup had sustained a laceration and puncture wound on her side when she was discovered by hikers on a trail in Hoonah, in Alaska’s panhandle in the southeast region of the state. 

The otter, named Kalee, is a potential future mate for Sparky, a 4-year-old male river otter born at the Detroit Zoo.

“Female river otters typically do not reproduce until they reach 2 years of age, but in the meantime, Kalee will be a playful companion for Sparky,” said DZS Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carter. “She is acclimating well to her new home and otter family.”

Kalee also joins Sparky’s parents Lucius, 12, and Whisker, 15, as well as 17-year-old female, Storm, at the Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat. The habitat was renovated and expanded last year to provide the animals more than triple the space, increasing from 680 to 2,500 square feet. 

Detroit Zoo takes in rescued otter pup from Alaska

ZOO NEWS: The Detroit Zoo has a new otter. 7-month-old Kalee was rescued in Alaska. http://bit.ly/2rOA2Uy

Posted by WDIV Local 4 / ClickOnDetroit on Thursday, December 20, 2018

Kalee is named in honor of longtime DZS board member Alan Kalter and his wife, Dr. Chris Lezotte, who provided the lead gift in 2012 to establish the Kalter/Lezotte Fund for Wildlife Rescue.

Adult North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) weigh 20-30 pounds, and their slender, cylindrical bodies reach 2-3 feet in length. These semi-aquatic mammals sport short, dense, waterproof fur and profuse whiskers. The playful river otters are swift on land as well as in the water, though their loping trot can appear somewhat ungainly compared to their graceful glide through the water.

Once abundant in U.S. and Canadian rivers, lakes and coastal areas, river otter populations have suffered significant declines due to fur trapping, water pollution, habitat destruction, pesticides and other threats. Today, they can be found in parts of Canada, the U.S. Northwest, the upper Great Lakes region, New England and Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. 

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