Kaleideum Introduces New Otter: Long-awaited North American River Otter Makes Her Debut
WINSTON-SALEM, NC (November 21, 2018) —Since it was constructed in the early 1990s, the North American River Otter exhibit at Kaleideum North has remained one of the museum’s most popular exhibits. Visitors of all ages enjoy watching the animals swim and play through the large glass windows above and below the water’s surface. River Otters are highly social animals so, when Mollie, the original female otter, passed away of old age more than three years ago, the museum’s animal curator staff began an active search for a companion for Otto, the remaining male otter. “It isn’t as though we could – or would – just take an otter from the wild,” said Kevin Caesar, Natural Science’s Coordinator. “We were waiting to find an injured or orphaned otter that was unable to survive outside of captivity.”
photo credit byAlex Warthen
The long wait ended a few months ago when Kaleideum staff were notified by wildlife officials in Whispering Pines, NC that an orphaned otter had been rescued and was in need of a permanent home. The baby female, estimated to be about eight weeks old, required extensive care, so curators arrived early in the morning and stayed late at night to feed her special formula provided by the North Carolina Zoological Park. She gained strength and grew quickly and was finally able to be introduced to Otto in October. The pair got along “swimmingly,” so the new addition, who has already reached adult size, will make her public debut this Friday, November 23, at a special “Otter Encounter” at 11:30. The program is included with museum admission and free for Kaleideum members.
The female otter has not yet been named, and the museum will announce plans for a naming contest in the coming days. Meanwhile, she is enjoying her new home and honing her swimming skills.
“In this season of thanksgiving, we are grateful that Otto finally has a companion,” stated Kaleideum Executive Director Elizabeth Dampier, “but we are equally as thankful to have members and visitors who are so supportive of our facility, staff, and the work that we do to inspire learning in our community.”
Kaleideum was formed by the merger of The Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem and SciWorks in July 2016. Kaleideum Downtown (formerly The Children’s Museum) was founded by the Junior League of Winston-Salem and opened its doors in 2004. Kaleideum North (formerly SciWorks), also founded by the Junior League of Winston-Salem, opened its doors as the Nature Science Center in 1964. The two museums merged into a single organization with a new mission – “Inspiring wonder, curiosity, and lifelong learning in our children and community through interactive play and discovery” – and the goal of eventually opening a combined building in downtown Winston-Salem. For more information, visit www.kaleideum.org.