Otters get more natural river habitat, zoo guests get more viewing options
October 9, 2017, Schnecksville, PA – Lehigh Valley Zoo is renovating its North American otter exhibit, enhancing guest viewing while creating a more natural environment for the otters in hopes of promoting an otter pregnancy.
Lehigh Valley Zoo guests love watching the playful antics of river otters. As a visitor on Facebook posted: “I love the otters! They are my favorite when I visit the LV zoo. So cute and comical”. However, North American river otters have nearly disappeared from lakes and rivers around the world. Once inhabiting nearly all large rivers, river otters have been hunted for their thick, waterproof fur. In addition, water pollution affects otters by killing their natural prey, fish, severely reducing many species’ populations. Lehigh Valley Zoo participates in the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) to repopulate otters into the wild. To that end, Lehigh Valley Zoo was recommended by the SSP to breed our two otters, Naya and Luani. River otters have historically been difficult to breed, but new research and success at other zoos over the past several years has inspired us at Lehigh Valley Zoo to promote breeding for Naya and Luani.
The current otter habitat has provided a home for otters for over two decades. While it has provided a good home for our otters, it needs an upgrade both to address leaking pipes, but more importantly to create an environment that simulates a natural river life that promotes otter breeding.
The Otter exhibit renovation project is expected to cost $40,000. The otter’s water filtration system will be upgraded to a highly efficient and powerful system that will significantly improve the water quality in the otter moat. This system will also provide currents of water in the moat so that Naya and Luani can actively swim and play in moving water. This is important to stimulate healthy activity levels and interactions between the two otters. As renovations continue, Lehigh Valley Zoo guests will see the addition of specially created logs, trees, and rocks to the water area of the otter exhibit. The addition of the underwater structures will stimulate important natural behaviors. The structures provide an underwater “playground” for the otters to showcase their natural abilities, such as twisting and turning through root systems and picking up rocks underwater to find food. The Lehigh Valley Zoo keepers expect the renovations to the filter system and the addition of the underwater structures will encourage Naya and Luani to create a family.
Our otters are not the only ones who will benefit from the planned renovations. Periscopes will be installed that allow zoo guests to watch Naya and Luani as they play in their new underwater playground.
“It’s important that we provide animals with habitats that are natural and that ensure they are thriving and not just surviving.” Said Melissa Borland, President/CEO of Lehigh Valley Zoo. “When this project is complete the otters will have more natural swimming options and our guests will have more viewing options.”
The Swain School has made a significant contribution by sponsoring the exhibit. Arrow Masters has offered generous pricing for the work on the filtration system. To complete the project another $20,000 is needed. If you would like to make a donation to the Otter Habitat Renovation, please contact Doreen Carl at 610-799-4171, ext. 232, by email at [email protected], and on our website: www.lvzoo.org
As a member-supported non-profit organization, Lehigh Valley Zoological Society was founded in 2004, but as a treasured community landmark, the Zoo’s history spans over a century. Founded in 1906 by General Harry C. Trexler, a local industrialist, the Lehigh Valley’s Trexler Game Preserve has educated and entertained more than five million people.
Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Lehigh Valley Zoo hosts year-round, family-friendly events and activities, educational programs, and camps. With a mission to create a safe, engaging and enlightening wildlife experience for guests of all ages, the Zoo demonstrates leadership in the cultural, scientific and conservation communities. To learn more about Lehigh Valley Zoo, we invite you to visit our website, www.lvzoo.org, or follow us on Facebook.