Two endangered giant river otters recently underwent wellness exams as part of a carefully managed preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami.
“Kara,” is a 17-year old female and weighs approximately 50 pounds. She was joined by “Matata,” a 7-year-old female that weighs approximately 58 pounds. Together, they were brought to the Zoo Miami Hospital where they underwent a series of procedures that included ultrasound exams, blood and urine collection, X-rays and vaccinations, as well as general eye, ear and dental exams. In addition, they both also received birth control implants as part of a carefully managed birth control program.
These procedures play a critical role in maintaining the overall health of the animals at Zoo Miami. Because wild animals will instinctively disguise any symptoms of being ill or injured to avoid exposing themselves to predation or attack, it is important that these exams take place so that any potential health issues can be diagnosed and hopefully treated before they become serious.
The procedures were managed by Zoo Miami associate veterinarians, Dr. Rodney Schnellbacher and Dr. Gaby Flacke, along with the Zoo Miami Animal Health Team. Both otters appear to be in generally good health and have since been successfully returned to their habitat where they can calmly recover from the day’s events.
Giant otters are the longest of the world’s 13 otter species with males reaching a length of six feet. They are extremely endangered and are naturally found in isolated and remote areas within some fresh water lakes, creeks, rivers, and reservoirs of Tropical South America. Zoo Miami has one of the country’s most successful captive breeding programs with several litters having been born here.