Otters under observation

DZG’s nine Asiatic short-clawed otters are on their best behaviour at the moment, as they’re being closely observed for a dissertation study.

Twenty year-old Vicky Watson, from the University of Northampton, has been busy casting a watchful eye over the cheeky group as part of her Bsc in Applied Animal Studies dissertation.

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For her final year project, Vicky is studying the behaviour of captive otters to see how water temperature may affect their actions and welfare.

This involves testing the water temperature before every observation at various times during the day and then recording how the otters behave immediately afterwards.

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Vicky also has to record how the group as a whole interact with the water.

Vicky said:  “I started collecting research in August and have three months to complete the dissertation, using otter groups from four different zoos.

“The group here at Dudley Zoo is the biggest group I observe though, so it does make the work trickier, but all the more fun as well!”

In 1991, the then newly-built otter enclosure was named joint winner of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Award.

Designed in-house by keepers, the large hillside enclosure with its artificial stream and pond was considered to be highly innovative at the time, creating a natural environment for the otters to live in.