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Otters and Social Media – World Otter Day

Posted 29 May 2024

Our otters are one of the most captivating species here at Exploris. They are intelligent, mischievous and full of fun, however, they are also one of the most challenging to care for. On World Otter Day, we hope to raise attention about a very modern threat that otters face in the illegal pet trade that is fuelled by social media.
Asian Short Clawed Otters in the Wild

Our otters are Short Clawed Asian Otters.  These otters are known for their highly social behaviour. They live in family groups of up to 12 individuals, led by a dominant breeding pair. Their social interactions are complex, involving vocalizations, scent markings, and a range of body postures. Playful by nature, Short-Clawed Asian Otters engage in activities like sliding down muddy banks, juggling pebbles, and chasing one another, making them particularly captivating to watch.

Social Media Stardom

 

The internet’s fascination with cute animal videos has propelled the Short-Clawed Asian Otter into social media stardom. Videos of these otters playing with toys, interacting with their keepers, or swimming gracefully have gone viral on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Accounts dedicated to otter conservation, such as @otter_world on Instagram and the YouTube channel of the International Otter Survival Fund, boast thousands of followers and millions of views.

The Impact of Social Media Fundraising

Beyond awareness, social media has also facilitated fundraising efforts for otter conservation. Crowdfunding platforms and online donation drives have enabled conservation groups to gather financial support from a global audience. For instance, the Wildlife Conservation Network’s annual #WildlifeConservationExpo, which features otter conservation projects, has successfully raised substantial funds through social media promotions. Otters and other primates often play a crucial role in marketing conservation projects, imagery and video with such creatures helps engagement with a wider audience.

So what is the problem?

The problem is that otters and many other similar animals are incredibly misunderstood. People see the interaction with zoo keepers and think it would be great to have an otter as pet. The illegal pet trade is hugely damaging to Asian Short Clawed Otters as a species which has seen it’s numbers in the wild dwindle by 30% in the last 30 years. They don’t make great pets. They need contact with other otters, they can be very aggressive and for want of a nicer word “smell”. Some have their teeth and sweat glands removed at an early age to make them more “suitable” pets and unfortunately is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of cruelty within the illegal pet trade.

What can be done to help?

Exploris has otter talks every day and are a great way to find out more about these amazing creatures. Seeing them up close and personal, especially at feeding time, can give you a glimpse into exactly how challenging these little scallywags can be! You’ll also get the chance to sample some otter scents as well! A member of our knowledgeable animal care team will be on had to answer any questions you might have.

We all love seeing animal pictures on the web but sometimes, as well-meaning as some content is, demonstrating training or domestication of wild animals generally isn’t doing wild animals any favours. One of the best things you can do is not engage with this sort of content at all. Wild animals shouldn’t be confused as pets and require specialist care and as “cute” as some of this content might seem, it is making the illegal pet trade a more lucrative pursuit.

Find out more in this superb article here

Or why not pay them a visit and catch one of our great talks and feeds?  Book Now.

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