High Desert Museum seeks new otter or two

Central Oregon museum high on list for rescued, adoptable animal

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin


Published Mar 18, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Mar 18, 2014 at 06:15AM

The High Desert Museum is in the market for a new otter, or maybe two.

Since the death of longtime museum resident Thomas in October, the popular otter exhibit has been home to just one animal, 4½-year-old Rogue.

Museum spokesman John Furgurson said visitors have noticed Rogue seems a bit lonely, recalling one of the museum’s free admission days held earlier this year.

“During free day, there was of course a big crowd gathered around the otter exhibit, and all the kids would run around from one side to the other to follow the otter,” Furgurson said. “He put on a good show for them. And one little girl, real cute little girl, said, ‘He needs a friend.’ I told her, ‘We’re working on that.’”

Otters are one of the most in-demand animals for zoos and wildlife museums, Furgurson said. Not only are there just a handful of places in the United States licensed to raise and adopt out rescued otters, the number of adoptable animals is quite limited.

“There is a list, and we’re on the list, and we’re high on the list and have all the credentials and the track record,” he said. “It’s not like we’re some new facility somewhere that never had otters before. They know that the High Desert Museum is a reputable environment for otters.”

Furgurson said the decision to acquire either one or two otters will likely come in three months or so, when the museum should move to the top of the list. In some cases, otter rescue organizations prefer to pair two otters who’ve grown close in a package deal of sorts, he said.

Rogue came to the museum through a similar arrangement last February, when he and a second male, Sandy, were acquired from a traveling wildlife exhibit based in Ohio.

However, Sandy fell ill shortly after his arrival and was returned to his prior owners.

Furgurson said museum officials are optimistic they’ll be able to secure a new otter companion or two to join Rogue relatively quickly. Thomas was the museum’s lone otter resident for six years following the death of Mokey, a female who lived at the museum from 1991 until 2007.

“In the perfect world, we’ll be introducing a new otter right when the summer crowds start coming, but in the world of wildlife, you never know how things are going to work out,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com