FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – It’s Otter Watch 2011 at a brand new exhibit opening soon at Ft. Lauderdale’s Museum of Discovery and Science.
The reason is Joey, a nine month old North American River Otter, who up until very recently was a proverbial ‘fish out of water’.
You see, Joey couldn’t swim.
“It started off with he would go into the exhibit and just put his nose into the water,” said Joey’s keeper Paige Roloff.
The museums’ staff has been looking out for Joey ever since someone dropped him off. When he was first introduced to two other otters for the museum’s new exhibit, Jafar and Marlin, they would ‘splish and splash’ in the water as Joey would sit on the bank and stare.
“It is kinda funny but it’s also sad that he was never taught by his mom (how to swim),” Roloff said.
Research shows otters aren’t born knowing how to swim but are taught by their mothers. So the staff believes that Joey was orphaned very, very young.
To make up for Joey’s lack of aquatic education, they built him a baby pool with steps and offered fish treats as incentives to cross the inch deep water. As Joey got more confident, the water level was raised.
On Tuesday, with CBS4’s cameras rolling, Joey took his first real swim.
Joey, Jafar and Marlins are the stars of the new “Otters at Play” exhibit in the museum’s new $25 million EcoDiscovery Center expansion which includes an airboat simulator and a prehistoric megalodon shark, which makes Jaws look like a guppie.
“It gives us a way to focus on the Florida which has been changing for millions of years and continues to change,” Kim Cavendish, CEO of the museum said.
To find out more about Joey, check out his Twitter account – Otter Talks.
The 34,000-sq.-ft. EcoDiscovery Center will open to the public on November 11th.