The exhibit is sponsored by sponsored by Sean and Nina Barth.
This state-of-the-art exhibit will be the home of North American river otters which are native to Central Florida. This natural environment exhibit will be home to a pair of river otters and will feature a waterfall and pond where Zoo guests can watch the otters swim and play.
Otters are very active and exciting to watch and will thrill Zoo guests with their funny and playful behavior. Children of all ages will be able to enjoy these highly interactive animals while learning about otters that are abundant in Florida's waterways and lakes.
"We are very excited to bring North American river otters back to the Zoo. This exhibit will be a show-piece for the Zoo and the otters should be a crowd pleaser for our guests. We hope our guests will enjoy the otters' lively antics as they swim and explore their environment," said Bonnie Breitbeil, Director of Animal Collections.
"The construction of the new otter exhibit was made possible by the generosity of Sean and Nina Barth, our Board of Directors and our Zoo visitors who donated to this important project. Our goal is to continue to bring new exhibits to the Zoo with the help of friends and supporters," said Joe Montisano, CEO.
River otters can be found in almost any river, lake, stream, swamp, marsh, or estuary ecosystem in North America and are equally at home in the water and on land. They make their home in a burrow featuring numerous tunnels - one of which allows them to come and go from the water.
In some areas otters may be active during the day, but generally they are nocturnal. On land, they can get around and run quite well, if not as effectively as they swim. They love to playfully slide down snow-covered, icy, or muddy hills-often ending with a splash in the water.
Otter families of mother and children can be seen enjoying such fun, which also teaches survival skills. They find slippery rocks and slide into the water on their bellies, or they leap in with somersaults and belly flops. They often enjoy wrestling matches with each other.
When they do travel on land, they alternate running with sliding on their bellies. A river otter can slide up to 20 feet at a time at speeds of 18 miles an hour, according to National Geographic.
The otter exhibit is just one of the exciting additions to the zoo in coming months and years.
On Tuesday, Seminole County commissioners approved the $1.45 million purchase of almost 17-acres of land that will eventually serve as the new Wild African Safari Park for the Central Florida Zoo.
The land is adjacent to the zoo, which sits off of U.S. 17-92 near Interstate 4. The county plans to lease the land to the zoo to build the attraction that will be largest expansion for the park thus far.
Zoo officials said construction should begin in about two years. The new area will include giraffes, zebras and gazelles and visitors may have a chance to feed the animals in the exhibit.