New river otter exhibit opening at Milwaukee County Zoo

Milwaukee County Zoo is set to unveil a new river otter exhibit as well as a new entrance and parking area this weekend.

The new Otter Passage exhibit features two pools, a splash pad, a river area with moving water and a 4.5m slide. The outdoor area is located by the new west entrance and will house three female river otters – Emerald, Clover and Shamrock.

Depending upon how the animals acclimate, the otters may rotate time on exhibit, and a male otter will eventually join the group, with the hope of establishing a breeding colony.

“We really wanted another signature exhibit to welcome guests at the new west entrance, similar to the Humboldt Penguin Exhibit at the main entrance,” said Chuck Wikenhauser, director of Milwaukee County Zoo.

“We were thinking of an animal native to North America and able to stay outside year-round, and river otters fit the bill perfectly. Plus the fact they’re just so fun to watch.”

The exhibit’s land area includes different substrates like dirt, grass and rock. Zookeepers expressed a need for the animals to have different materials in which to dig – keeping the active otters engaged and interested.

An underwater viewing area, and an artificial hollowed-out tree for kids to enter for an up-close look at the otters’ den, add to the visitor experience.  Guests can also watch keepers train the animals in two different areas.

COST was responsible for theme rockwork, faux logs, and theme finishes to the patron view area and exhibit space.

The new west entrance features a gift shop, picnic tables and a small concession area. Instead of manned ticket booths, as are available at the main entrance, the new entry will feature a ticket machine.

Image: c. Milwaukee County Zoo.