An 8-week-old, emaciated otter river pup found on a golf course near Sunriver a couple weeks ago is now in the care of High Desert Museum. He will eventually join the Autzen Otter Exhibit.
The museum said the North American river otter pup was severely dehydrated. He weighed 2.4 pounds when it arrived but is gaining weight rapidly. He now weighs about 4.6 pounds.
He was brought to the museum while wildlife officials tried to find his mother. That search failed.
“We don’t know exactly what happened to this otter, although we do know that without his parents he wouldn’t have survived in the wild,” said Museum Curator of Wildlife Jon Nelson in a statement.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife determined the otter should stay at the museum.
“This was a unique situation where this otter pup does appear to have been legitimately orphaned,” Nelson said. “This is the time of year when people will sometimes find young animals seemingly alone in nature. Often, though, the parent has only temporarily left the young in a secluded spot to feed or rest and plans to return. The best thing to do is leave the animal there and contact the local ODFW office to report it.”
While the preference would be to have the otter rehabilitate with other otter pups of its same age, nothing like that is currently available in Oregon, the museum said. So, this pup’s best hope is long-term human care.
“Caring for a young otter is intense work, and our wildlife team has done an incredible job juggling bottle feedings around the clock,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw in a statement.
The museum has experience with this type of case. A male otter named Pitch was found along the Metolius River in 2017 when he was about seven weeks old.
Pitch now lives with Brook, an approximately 10-year-old male, in the Autzen Otter Exhibit.
Another otter, 12-year-old Rogue, was recently euthanized after his health deteriorated, the museum said.