Two North American river otters, named after Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Sandy and Rogue, have a new home at the High Desert Museum’s outdoor Autzen Otter Exhibit.
The playful pair of 3-year-old males is getting acquainted with their new surroundings, and Thomas, the museum’s longtime resident otter. Like Thomas, Rogue is the more outgoing one of the pair, while Sandy is somewhat shy.
Another characteristic that the new otters share with Thomas is that they were raised in captivity. They cannot be released into the wild because they are imprinted on humans, meaning that they rely on people for food and care.
The otters, who are not siblings, came from Ohio, and found a home at the museum with help from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“We are excited to have these two engaging, charismatic animals, which add to the natural history learning experiences at the Museum,” said Dr. Dana Whitelaw, vice president of programs. “In rivers and lakes, the presence of otters is an indication of a healthy environment, and their abundance is tied to their habitat quality. The otters’ naturally playful behavior continually captivates and delights visitors, prompting them to connect to these animals, and learn the importance of their natural habitat.”
As the new otters get used to their new home, they are expected to become increasingly visible and accustomed to visitors. The exhibit allows visitors to see them frolicking outside, in the scenic, rimrock-lined spot. From inside the exhibit, the otters can be seen curled up in their den or swimming underwater. A naturalist talk about North American river otters occurs at the exhibit at 2 p.m. daily.
The Museum wildlife staff is introducing the new otters to Thomas slowly, so that they can become comfortable with each other. Thomas, who is 16 years old, will remain behind-the-scenes temporarily during this process.
About the High Desert Museum
The High Desert Museum is nationally acclaimed for inspiring stewardship of the natural and cultural resources of the High Desert. It offers close-up wildlife encounters, living history performances, Native American and Western art, nature trails, tours and special programs for all ages. An independent, nonprofit educational institution, it is on 135 forested acres, five minutes from Bend on South Highway 97. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily May 1 through Oct. 31. Adults, $15; seniors (65 plus), $12; ages 5-12, $9; ages 4 and younger and all members, free. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily Nov. 1 through April 30. Adults, $12; ages 65 plus, $10; ages 5-12, $7; ages 4 and younger, free. Closed July 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
NOTE: Current hours and lower rates: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through April 30. Adults, $12; ages 65 plus, $10; ages 5-12, $7; ages 4 and younger, free.