North American River Otter
Species: North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)
Diet: Capelin, Lake Smelt, Feline Diet and Carrots
Stranding Date: 07/21/2001, St. Petersburg, FL
Story: Found in a private citizen's garage at only 7-9 months old, severely dehydrated and emaciated after likely being hit by a vehicle. Regained significant mobility, despite damage to his vertebrae.
Personality: Chipper, mischievous old man
Loves: Working with his trainers, playing with toys
Known For: Burrowing into tents made out of blankets
Can Be Found: Napping in the blankets in his habitat
Did You Know? Although Cooper drags his back feet on land, he is quite agile in the water!
On July 21, 2001, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium rescued a young male otter that was found in a private citizen's garage in St. Petersburg, Florida. The young otter was named "Cooper" after longtime CMA supporters Tom and Sarah Cooper.
Cooper was severely dehydrated and emaciated at the time of his rescue. An extensive physical examination by CMA's former staff veterinarian Dr. Robin Moore revealed more serious injuries. Cooper had sustained abrasions and abscesses along his back, worn footpads and nails, and partial paralysis in his rear legs. It is unknown how he sustained his injuries, however, it was speculated that he had been hit by a motor vehicle given the nature of his injuries. Throughout his rehabilitation process he has regained some mobility in his hind legs, however, he is still unable to fully support his body on land and walk around. He has permanent damage to his vertebra, which prevents him from walking and moving around properly. Therefore it was ultimately determined that he did not make a good candidate for release. With out the ability to move around efficiently he would have become an easy target for predators, such as coyotes, bobcats, and alligators.
Today Cooper is doing quite well and is able to move around his habitat that has been modified to meet his needs. He seems to enjoy rubbing on his blankets and spending time arranging them, as he would have done in the wild to arrange grass or leaves. The Marine Mammal Department has implemented a training program that will allow the trainers to examine Cooper daily as well as provide exercise and stimulation. Cooper was introduced to his new pal Walle in February 2013.