Percy the North American River Otter. Photo Credit: Erik Bowker
Imagine, on a return from an unexpected and extended stay at the hospital you come home to a surprise house remodel that includes new ramps, rearranged furniture, landscape pruning and in-pool additions for those times you want to float in the water without a lot of effort. What a great surprise it would make, just like a reality TV home-makeover show. This is exactly what Percy the North American River Otter will be surprised with when she returns to her exhibit from the Veterinary hospital at the end of the month.
Percy, an approximately 17-year-old otter, is receiving treatment for age-related ailments including arthritis in her hips, early renal failure and a “slipped disc” in her back. In late July, Percy had a disc rupture in her back causing pressure on her spinal cord that resulted in limited mobility. She was taken to the Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital to be treated. She has been recuperating under the care of veterinarians and her zookeepers. While she still has a way to go in the recovery/rehab process, she is making great improvement and regaining her mobility. The exhibit modifications will allow her to remain in her home that she is familiar with after she leaves the hospital. Much like a remodel to make a home more comfortable for an elderly person, we hope our changes to Percy’s home will help her be comfortable as she ages.
Percy has lived at the Sacramento Zoo for the majority of her life, over 16 years. She was a wild otter pup that ended up at the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida as an orphan via Florida Fish and Game in early 1999. She then came to the Sacramento Zoo in December 1999.
North American River Otters are native to the freshwater rivers and streams in the United States. The largest concentration of otters in California is the Suisun Marsh, about 40 miles from Sacramento. They can also be found in the Yolo Basin, and the American River range, even stretching to the foothills. The median life expectancy for a North American River Otter is 11.7 years.
On your next visit to the Sacramento Zoo see if you can spot the changes in the exhibit and how Percy might use them.