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High Desert Museum Debuts Newest Animal Addition

BEND, OR -- A new baby otter made his debut at High Desert Museum Wednesday. The 5.5-months-old pup came to the Museum in May after he was found abandoned near Sunriver.

Museum Curator of Wildlife Jon Nelson spent time feeding and caring for the otter all summer, “since then, it’s been a process mainly of allowing him to grow and develop and to spend increasing amounts of time with the adult river otters so he can be on exhibit full time.” Nelson added it was a big effort to introduce him to swimming, “They don’t naturally take to the water; which seems a little counterintuitive. But they have to be taught how to swim and gradually introduced to the water. And so he would get a couple of hours a day, every day, to kind of do that.”

Nelson learned how to introduce the otters to each other, by talking to other organizations. “There are resources and I’m able to reach out to colleagues at places like the Oregon Zoo and get tips for how they have been successful in the past, but really there is no playbook because we are dealing with wildlife. So, although we like to use dogs and cats and domestic animals for an analogy, you never really know for sure how it’s going to go,” Nelson said.

The opportunity to name the new otter was auctioned off in August at the High Desert Rendezvous, the Museum’s largest fundraising event of the year. The winning bidder has yet to determine the name.

 The High Desert Museum cares for more than 130 animals, from otters to raptors. All the animals are non-releasable, primarily due to injuries or because they are habituated, meaning they became too familiar with humans and possibly never learned how to hunt or avoid predators. At the Museum, they serve as ambassadors who educate visitors about the conservation of High Desert species and landscapes.


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