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Richmond’s New Significant Otters

After a start in Louisiana, they make their debut at Maymont.



Two clever otters in Louisiana figured out how to raid crawfish farms of their wares. Their punishment? A life sentence in Richmond.

The 2-year-old North American river otters, a male named Louis and an unnamed female, make their Maymont debut Tuesday after being removed from their home state as nuisances.

There’s a bit of an otter shortage right now, says Buz Bireline, Maymont’s director of habitats and Nature Center. So they were lucky to get the rescued pair, he says, after their brief stint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ohio.

Louisiana is one of the few states that doesn’t euthanize its nuisance animals, Bireline says, and allows them to cross state lines.

He isn’t sure if they’re brother and sister, but says they get along well. A public contest will name the female. Louis got his name from a donor auction winner.

Maymont’s longtime otters, Neptune and Pandora, died last fall of natural causes. They were 19 and 17, respectively, and otters live to be around 16-20, Bireline says.

The otters eat “a specialized otter meat meal mix for zoo diets,” as well as some fruits and vegetables, Bireline says. And they eat a lot in order to swim all day.

“They’re the Michael Phelps of the animal world,” Bireline says.

One treat they haven’t gotten since Lousiana: crawfish.

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