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Baby otter calls National Mississippi River Museum home

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL ) — An orphaned otter pup has arrived at the river museum in Dubuque and is settling into his new permanent habitat.

The baby North American River otter was found at two months old by an independent animal rehabber. The otter was found alone without a mother and because otters stay with their mom’s until around two years old, it was decided that it would not be safe for the otter to return to wild.

For now the otter is in his own secluded habitat while he settles into his new home at the museum. His tank is boarded up until museum staff determine that he is healthy enough to be introduced to visitors.

Curator of living collections, Abby Urban says the otter is in great shape and they are making sure he stays healthy and happy there.

“We will continue to provide 24-hour care and monitoring for this animal. He is doing very, very well. We’re seeing a lot of positive signs that he’s thriving here.”

Urban says the new otter pup will play an important role in educating visitors about the importance of river otters in our ecosystem. She says the baby otter is not only an important addition to the museum, but otters are also very important to our rivers.

“Otters could be viewed as a bio-indicator and that’s kind of indicative of a healthy ecosystem.” she explains. “If otters are not found in an area a number of assumptions could be made perhaps the water quality is poor we might not be dealing with maybe a healthy river system or a healthy stream system.”

Urban says this species of otter was once extirpated in Iowa, but have since made a slow comeback to the state.

Museum staff will be monitoring the otter pup’s health this week. Urban says if he is healthy enough, he will be introduced to the public in the next couple of weeks.

Cori Hanna

Today in Iowa reporter

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