Chester Zoo has revealed plans for the UK’s first ever breeding centre and underwater viewing pool for giant otters.
The £1/4m development, which will initially be home to a pair of giant South America river otters, will hold more than 25, 000 litres and allow visitors to see the otters diving for food.
There will be an undercover seating area, a crawl-in viewing dome and state-of-the-art off-show cubbing dens.
Development Director, Simon Mann said:
“This new enclosure is at the absolute cutting-edge of design in terms of both animal welfare and the exciting viewing opportunities it will offer the public.”
It is hoped the otters’ new home will go on to become an important international breeding centre for the species, with only 5, 000 giant otters now thought to remain in the wild.
Curator of Mammals, Tim Rowlands added:
“Giant Otters are charming animals and it will be fascinating to see them swimming underwater. It will give people a real insight into their almost amphibious adaptations, such as their wing-like tail and webbed feet.
“They’re an endangered species that have rarely bred in zoos before, so this excellent new breeding facility should allow us to play a pivotal role in the future conservation of the species.”
Work is already underway on the exhibit which will open in the next few weeks.