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Back to the river

Orphaned otters raised by CROW returned to the wild

By Staff | Jul 20, 2021

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife raised three orphaned North American river otters, then released them on July 9 at the River Park in Bonita Springs. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CROW

Three orphaned North American river otters were returned to the wild on July 9 at the River Park in Bonita Springs after being raised at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel.

The otters had been in the care of CROW since they were just a few weeks old.

The first pup — a healthy young male — was admitted on Feb. 10 after being found on the side of the road in LaBelle. A few days later on Feb. 12, a young female otter was transferred to CROW after being initially admitted to the Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda. She was battling pneumonia, but quickly recovered under the medical care of CROW’s staff before joining the male.

North American river otters are very social creatures and otter pups typically remain with their mother throughout their first year of life, CROW reported. Growing up with a sibling is vital to their learning and development of important survival skills needed for life in the wild.

In early March, the third otter — a young female — was found alone in a drainage ditch and admitted to the Tampa Bay Raptor Center. She was in good health when she was transferred to CROW on March 10 to be raised with the other two already in the clinic’s care. The three otters quickly bonded.

The three released otters swim away.

“As the otters grew, we weaned them onto solid food and introduced them to the water,” CROW Rehabilitation Manager Breanna Frankel said. “Eventually they were moved to our outside enclosures, where they learned important skills like hunting.”

The otters development of their hunting ability was aided by volunteer anglers who donated time to catch live fish.

“We are so thankful for the amazing people who answered our call for fisherman,” Frankel said. “All of the live fish provided for us to feed the otters helped them prepare for this day.”

If you find an animal in need of help, call 239-472-3644, extension 222.

For more information about CROW or to plan a visit, go to www.crowclinic.org.

A curious otter checks out the camera.

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