The River Otter exhibit opened at the Menominee Park Zoo on May 17, 2013. Major donations for the exhibit were from zoo champions Tom and Penny Harenburg. Other funds contributing to the exhibit came from the James Ryan Fund, Kuenzel Foundation, Schnieder Family and smaller donations to the OZS from its members and the We Otter Celebrate fundraiser held at the The Waters. Neumann Pools worked with us to produce an exhibit that meets specifications of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The two otters and interpretive signs for the exhibit were purchased by the OZS.
Our otters are Minnie and Winnie and were named by the people of Oshkosh before their arrival. One of their favorite places to nap in inside a large log on the west side of the exhibit.
About Otters in Wisconsin
River Otters are common in Wisconsin and are found in suitable habitats, where aquatic food sources are plentiful. Otters love fish, like suckers, minnows, sunfish, and bass. They will also eat crayfish, frogs, birds, and some plants. If you think they look like weasels, you are right! They are one member of the weasel family, along with fisher, ermine, and marten.
Otters have large territories (3 mi2 or 8 km2) and are quite secretive which makes a sighting of one in the wild a rare and wonderful experience. You are more likely to see evidence of otters than the animals themselves. You may find their ‘spraints’ or bathrooms located along stream edges. Spraints contain their green vomit and scat along with undigested fish scales, bones, and crayfish shells.
River otter fur is shiny, soft and incredibly dense to trap air and insulate them from cold water and air. These properties make otter pelts desirable in the fur trade. Otter populations are healthy in Wisconsin and are more common in the northern half of the state. Each winter otters are trapped for their incredible fur by Native American tribes in the state and others with permits.
Read more otters from the DNR River Otter Fact Sheet
Did You Know?
A group of otters is called a romp when on land, but they are called a raft when in the water.