Maryland Zoo rescues stranded otter pup


Pup found separated from mother at just about 40 days old

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Maryland is rehabilitating a female North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) pup. According to a zoo release,1 the otter was estimated to be about 40 days old at the time of rescue and was discovered stranded on a northeast branch of the Chesapeake Bay shores in Elk Neck State Park.

All images photo courtesy of Maryland Zoo.

All images photo courtesy of Maryland Zoo.

Park officials waited for signs of the pup’s mother, but she did not return, so they reached out to a local animal rehabilitation facility before deciding to bring the pup to the zoo for care.

“Otters that young are very vulnerable without their mother,” stated Erin Cantwell Grimm, mammal curator at the Maryland Zoo, in the release.1 “They need to eat every few hours, so our hospital staff has been working around the clock. Pups learn all their life skills from their mother so it’s up to us to teach them things an otter should know, like how to hunt, what’s safe to eat and, believe it or not, not to be afraid of the water at first.”

Currently, the otter is residing in the quarantine area of the zoo’s animal hospital until it receives its initial vaccinations, passes initial health examinations, and improves its swimming skills. The zoo is collaborating with the Species Survival Plan coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to find the best home for the otter.

“The pup was quite young when it was found without its mother so it would not have been able to survive on its own in the wild. So, we have to take over and make sure it has all the tools she’ll need to thrive into adulthood,” Grimm added.

River otters are found throughout North America, and despite their name, they can live in other bodies of water including streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and coastal shorelines and marshes. In Maryland, river otters also live in tidewater areas.1


Maryland Zoo caring for rescued otter pup. News release. Maryland Zoo. June 15, 2023. Accessed June 19, 2023.

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