Garden City, Kan (WesternKansasNews.Com) – Lee Richardson Zoo said farewell to “Ariel,” the 19-year-old, female river otter who passed away suddenly Wednesday morning. Necropsy results are pending. The median life expectancy for North American river otters is 12.3 years. Ariel debuted at the zoo in September of 2003 after arriving from Dickerson Park Zoo. For the last two years, she and the male otter “Brighton” have been playfully entertaining and educating visitors to the Kansas Waters area of the zoo.
Staff are saddened by the loss but will remember Ariel’s antics with a smile. Keepers will offer additional enrichment to the male to keep him occupied until a new companion can travel to Garden City. Lee Richardson Zoo will work with the North American River Otter Species Survival Plan to identify an appropriate mate as soon as possible. The NARO SSP is an AZA committee that collectively manages the animals within the population in human care to keep the population healthy, both genetically and demographically.
Otters are a member of the Mustelid or weasel family. Other members of the Mustelid family include skunks, badgers, weasels, minks, fishers, ferrets, and wolverines. Brighton can be seen in the Kansas Waters habitat next to Cat Canyon. Current zoo public hours are 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily.