Check out what’s making a splash at the Gladys Porter Zoo these days . . . North American river otters! Tallulah and Imnaha will be making their public debut in their brand new exhibit on August 28th. Construction of their new habitat was completed this week and the Zoo’s staff can’t wait to see how much they love their new hangout.
Three year-olds Imnaha and Tallulah are sisters from the same litter. They were born at the Oakland Zoo in California. Just like humans, they have their own unique personalities – one is shy and one is a bit of a troublemaker. But together, they manage to get into all kinds of fun and mischief.
North American river otters are semi-aquatic mammals that spend most of their time in the water. They have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. They have short legs, webbed feet, and long, streamlined bodies for fast swimming. A powerful tail acts as a rudder and facilitates fast, agile turns.
In the wild, otters spend a great deal of time foraging, and they make miles-long circuits along rivers and streams. As they lope over land, they look for opportunities to give their legs a rest by sliding. When the opportunity presents itself, they make a running start, flop down on their smooth bellies, tuck their front legs up along their chest and enjoy the ride.
“Whether they are slipping down a waterfall or sliding over snow, otters have been clocked going 17 miles per hour under the right conditions,” said Zoo Director Dr. Patrick Burchfield. “When we designed their new exhibit, we made sure to incorporate several different slides that will allow our new otters to really pick up some speed. Every new exhibit that we build incorporates features that encourage animals’ specific natural behaviors. This ensures that both the animals in our care and the visitors that come to enjoy and learn from them have a fantastic time.”
Gladys Porter Zoo staff can’t wait for visitors to see the new exhibit and meet Tallulah and Imnaha for themselves. So, make plans to visit the Zoo with the entire family. Visitors will be able to see these adorable and furry creatures glide down a slide and splash into a pool of water where they will spend their days playing. Many thanks to the City of Brownsville for making this playtime watery wonderland a possibility for our otter girls and for the entire community!