Giant Otters – Pteronura brasiliensis
The Giant Otter reserve is home to Mora and Alexandra, two female Giant Otters who arrived at Yorkshire Wildlife Park on the 30th September 2015. The Giant Otter reserve was officially opened by gold medalist Rebbecca Adlington on the 22nd March 2016.
Native to South America the Giant Otter is the longest member of the Mustelidae (weasel) family, growing up to a rather giant length of 5.6ft. Like many other mustelids, Giant Otters are a very social species often supporting three to eight members in typical family groups.
Giant Otters live across north-central South America, typically living in and along the Amazon River. Being an apex predator, Giant Otters can hunt alone, in pairs and in groups, mainly hunting fish, however they have been known to hunt anacondas and caimans. Yorkshire Wildlife Park is home to Mora and Alexandra, two female Giant Otters from Duisburg Zoo in Germany.
Alex can be identiﬁed by the white mark down her face and under her chin. She is the older sister and is more food orientated than Mora, she will be the ﬁrst over if there is food involved. Mora is the most inquisitive, she responds to animal rangers well and always is the ﬁrst to come when called and the ﬁrst to check out anything new. Both girls love trout but they are also fed on Roach, tilapia and very occasionally salmon, very similar fish that they would hunt and eat in the wild.
Giant Otters have been devastated by poaching for their velvety pelt and habitat degradation in their native South America, and their numbers have been reduced to fewer than 5,000. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation is an active supporter of a key project in remote areas South America to preserve the Giant Otter threatened by deforestation, commercial fisheries, and increased industrialization across the Amazon Basin.
The charitable Foundation is funding a scheme to improve management and conservation and carry out a local field survey in the 90,000 hectare Cantao State Park, in Brazil, which is home to 700 species of birds and 300 species of fish. The project will improve awareness of the Giant Otters and the need for conservation, and will create local jobs as 30 oxbow lakes and river channels will be constantly monitored and other areas surveyed.
See the opening of the Giant Otter reserve and Rebecca Adlington’s interview below:
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