River Otter Alliance

President's Message

Dear Readers:

Welcome to the Spring 2002 edition of The River Otter Journal.

In this issue, we have an article from Dr. Gail Blundell on her study of why river otters tend to live in groups in marine environments. We also have an update from Dr. Jo Thompson on her work with otter conservation education in Africa, an article on the status of the river otter population restored to Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, and an article by Dr. Paul Polechla on places with 'otter names.' Dr. Merav Ben-David has also provided an article which discusses her research using a spatial model to address the question whether river otters could naturally recolonize the Grand Canyon and in what time period.

With spring in the air, it is once again time for otter pups. Congratulations to The Otter Habitat's Tripod and Emmit, proud parents of two river otter pups, born on March 20, 2002. Congratulations also to the Akron Zoo on their three river otter pups born on March 28, 2002.

Akron Zoo otter pups with keepers Wendy Buck & John Samaras. Photo by Marlo Rossetti.

Colorado's Ocean Journey, a Denver-based aquarium housing both river and sea otters, also has a new otter pup; Gracie, a five-year-old southern sea otter, gave birth to her pup on May 11, 2002. This is only the second time a sea otter pup has been conceived, born and survived in captivity. The first was Oz, born January 3, 2001, at the Oregon Zoo. (See Spring 2001 issue of The River Otter Journal for additional information on Oz.)

One of last year's river otter pups, Lyle, from the Rocky Mountain Ark Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, is planning a temporary move to Colorado's Ocean Journey this summer. Lyle will be professionally trained and on display as part of the aquarium's plan to continually offer new displays to attract return visitors. Ocean Journey has recently filed for bankruptcy protection as it attempts to reorganize its debts to stay in business. Ocean Journey has generously supported several river otter-related studies in its short three-year existence. We wish Ocean Journey and their otters the best of luck.

Thank you to everyone who remembered us with donations and membership renewals during these difficult economic times. As a result of your support, we continue to act as a liaison among schools, groups, organizations and government agencies that have an interest in all species of otters. Your donations and membership funds are used to produce, duplicate and distribute materials to interested persons and organizations, as well as produce our bi-annual newsletter. We truly appreciate your continued support.

-Tracy Johnston, ROA President and Newsletter Editor