Otters are highly social animals who live in family groups - inappropriate captivity is cruel and damaging to their physical and mental health.
Earlier this year, WFFT welcomed a new arrival – a species of otter so rare that it was once believed to be extinct.
The Hairy-nosed otter is known by experts as the ‘miracle’ otter, having been declared extinct in 1998 before camera traps later provided evidence of the species still roaming in parts of South East Asia.
However, these populations are listed as Endangered and are under rapid decline.
Now, one of these incredibly rare animals is now living at our Wildlife Rescue Centre, where new photographs show how he has settled in so far after arriving back in May.
Named Oreo, the animal was being unnaturally kept as a pet for the last six years, and is suspected to have originally been poached from the wild. He was surrendered to us after his owner decided it was better for the otter to live in a suitable environment.
As a pet, Oreo was kept alongside another male otter named Bacon. However, Bacon is a different species – an Asian small-clawed otter. Yet the pair have formed a special bond, and we have kept the two friends together in the same habitat at WFFT.
Oreo and Bacon now have access to a more natural environment in a habitat that has trees, tunnels, and a pool to swim in, as well as being fed a healthy diet that includes several species of fish.
The Hairy-nosed Otter, known for its hairy nose pad and white upper lip, is so rare that Oreo is believed to be one of only two living in rescue centres around the world.
According to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, Oreo’s species is suspected to have suffered a population reduction of more than 50% in the last 30 years, and is likely to suffer another 50% population reduction over the next 30 years.
The rapid decline in numbers is due to threats that include habitat destruction and illegal hunting and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.
Sadly, it is common to see endangered wild animals like Oreo being kept as pets. Otters are wild animals and should never be kept as pets.
WFFT is one of South East Asia’s largest animal sanctuaries and cares for over 700 animals. The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates captive wild animals, and offers a forever home to those who cannot safely be returned to the wild.
The charity also focuses on raising awareness of wildlife conservation and animal exploitation by educating tourists and local communities on the urgent issues facing animals today.