South Carolina Aquarium welcomes 2 new otters

.(Live 5)
Updated: Apr. 5, 2021 at 10:32 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Aquarium is getting two North American river otters.

The South Carolina Aquarium says these young otters came to the Aquarium through a Species Survival Plan program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

In 2019, after much thought and consideration, the aquarium’s animal care team says they decided to explore the possibility of adding two new family members to their senior otter duo, Ace and Stono.

As incredibly social animals, the aquarium says they determined that an injection of youth and companionship would be vital to the welfare of Ace and Stono as they reach their twilight years.

Aquarium staff approached the river otter Species Survival Plan to formally submit their request for new otters. South Carolina Aquarium Animal Behaviorist, Annemarie Ferrie says “The SSP provides breeding and transfer recommendations for all otters living at AZA member zoos and aquariums, determining placement based on each animal’s genetics and best fit.”

The two young river otters selected are from Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan and they were ready to be placed. The aquarium says it was determined that its senior otter duo were the perfect fit for these brothers based on their ages, personalities and welfare needs.

The new otters, yet-to-be named, were transported to the South Carolina Aquarium this past January.

Behavioral specialists spent time with staff at the Potter Park Zoo, learning more about the otters’ personalities and preferences before bringing them home to Charleston, the aquarium says.

To prevent possible transmission of disease, the aquarium says the new otters were kept in quarantine for 30 days where they received the same top-notch care they will experience on exhibit.

Introductions will be ongoing through the spring, as aquarium staff say they will help to foster and build the relationships between Ace and Stono and the young otters.

Ace and Stono are 18 and 17 years old respectively. The aquarium says they have long surpassed the 7-to-12-year lifespan of a wild otter and are within the average lifespan range of river otters under human care.

The addition of the new otters, who just recently turned 1 year old, will ensure that neither Ace nor Stono will be without social support when one passes.

“The timing was right for Ace and Stono to meet new otters while they are still active and curious. The new otters will add a lot of playful energy to the Aquarium’s river otter habitat! Eventually, age will catch up with Ace and Stono, and they will pass on. An otter that is used to companionship may experience depression. With that in mind, we decided that it was in Ace and Stono’s best welfare interests to welcome these new otters to provide continued socialization through their senior years, as well as to support the river otter SSP,” says Ferrie.

While all of the otters get to know each other better, the aquarium says there will be opportunities for guests to see different groups of two to four individuals on exhibit.

The public will be asked to help vote on the new otters’ names in the coming days through the Aquarium’s Facebook page.

More information on the otters can be found on the Aquarium blog.

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