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River otter

Keepers, volunteers and guests alike will miss the playful pair.

It is with great sadness that we share North American river otters Gladys and Finley unexpectedly passed away on Sunday morning.

Finley was found deceased by keepers during their routine morning check and at the time, Gladys was lethargic and poorly responsive. She was immediately taken to the hospital but unfortunately died in route.

A couple of weeks ago, keepers noticed both otters were acting lethargic and lacked an appetite, but within a couple of days they had returned to normal. However, on Saturday, keepers noted that Gladys and Finley were exhibiting the same symptoms and were prescribed anti-nausea medication. Neither were interested in taking the medication and a plan was made to perform full exams on both otters and get radiographs.

Necropsies showed no significant findings but revealed some possible lymph node enlargement and abnormal intestinal contents. Tissue samples were taken and are being sent to a pathologist for further evaluation. Contents of the intestines are being sent out for bacterial cultures, toxin tests and molecular tests and a diet analysis was taken. Additionally, we collected water and habitat samples for testing, though the results could take up to a month. We are hopeful that these samples will shed light on the cause of death of our otter pair.

Gladys, who was six years old, was donated to us from a private facility in 2015. Four-year-old Finley came to us from an accredited zoo in 2018.

Their loss marks an incredibly difficult time for our Wild Florida keepers and the Zoo community as a whole.

“Finley and Gladys were always ready to greet keepers every morning and could put an instant smile on anyone’s face,” said Marc Franzen, Wild Florida keeper. “Finley was very bold and never hesitated about interacting with his environment. Gladys was often shy at first but quickly grew comfortable with her surroundings. We were always amazed at how smart they were and how quickly they could learn new behaviors. They will be greatly missed.”