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Dec 5, 2013

Giant Otter Pteronura brasiliensis Enclosure Redesign

Giant Otters are endangered as a result of major habitat loss and hunting threats in the rainforests and wetlands of South America. 

They play an important role in zoos by raising public awareness about this endangered species and threats to its habitat.

Today, there are 82 Giant Otters in captivity and only 12 youngsters were born worldwide during the last 12 months (ISIS, July 2013). This species requires complex care and housing facilities to rear offspring with success. For example, Giant Otters must be provided with areas where offspring can be reared in total privacy, away from human presence and disturbances to promote successful rearing. This project aimed to provide for all the otters’ needs with these breeding considerations in mind.

The build was a two stage process to convert an existing Sea Lion enclosure into a bespoke Giant Otter exhibit. The outside area was completed in 2010 after a four week construction period, while the inside area was constructed over 6 months and was finished in February 2012. The design and materials were chosen to maximise the environmental sustainability of the project. Efficient insulation and heating methods reduce wastage, and modification of the previous

Sea Lion enclosure has kept costs down.

Since opening, the exhibit has delivered on its goals by providing a safe environment for Giant Otters with excellent standards of animal husbandry. One indicator of this success can be seen by the successful birth and rearing of two cubs in the first season following opening and positive feedback received from visitors.

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