The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island’s resident otters are swimming with personality.
The resident otters at the NC Aquarium — Finn, Banks and Molly — are never short on fun; aquarium guests can often watch as the otters dive, wrestle and play in their habitat located in the Wild Wetlands Gallery.
At 17 years old, Molly is the oldest of the bunch and the aquarium’s only female otter. She arrived from the Florida Aquarium at one year old. Males Finn and Banks are both four years old, and both arrived at the aquarium less than one year old. Since Molly is an elderly otter, and the other two are so energetic and often physical, Molly and the younger males have limited interactions. Instead, visitors will see Molly on her own, or see Finn and Banks playing together.
Feeding time is also entertaining to watch. The otters are fed three large meals and two small snacks a day. The menu includes many kinds of fish, fruits and vegetables, and shrimp. To stimulate their natural instinct to forage, the food is sometimes frozen into ice blocks or hidden in a jug so that the otters have to interact and explore. Such puzzle-solving is called “enrichment” and is an important part of the day for many animals at the aquarium. Visitors might also see large plastic balls floating in the habitat or underwater tunnels for the otters to explore. All of these activities activate the otters’ desire to analyze and examine their surroundings and is part of maintaining their best possible health and well-being.
“Otters are very curious animals,” says aquarist Connie Dobbs. “They will often come right up to the glass to check out the aquarium guests. They are definitely very popular animals.”