BY MELANIE BUCK –
Wildlife Rehabilitator Tommy Young, of the Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center, has received a six-week old baby otter and is in need of a sponsor to help care for the critter.
Young said the otter would require two years of care and training before he could be released back into the wild. Young said the otter appears to be in good health; however, since it is now orphaned, it has no parent to teach it how to fish, gather food, and survive. The otter eats crawdads, mussels, frogs, and fish and most of his food will be hand-caught by Young and his team of volunteers and placed into the otter’s pool for him to learn to catch on his own. The pool will also help the otter to be an experienced swimmer. “They can be expensive to care for,” said Young. “It will cost about $400 over the next two years and most don’t cost quite that much.”
This is the busiest time of year for the Center as many baby animals are found in the wild and believe to be abandoned by their parents. Young, however, said that many times, the parents have not abandoned the babies and are close by just waiting for the humans to leave. Young encourages people who find young animals to make sure the animals are truly abandoned before touching them or taking them from their natural habitat. “I have another otter that I’ve had for one year and he will be able to help teach this one, which will be a big help,” explained Young. He continued, “Once the otter can catch a fish in the small pool, we’ll move him to a bigger pool, and then clear freshwater, and then muddy freshwater. Once they can catch a fish in muddy water, they’re usually good to go.”
Young has the experience needed to teach and care for the otter, but will need a sponsor to assist with the process. If you would like to sponsor “Sinbad” as Young’s granddaughter has named him, or would like to make any type of contribution, contact Young at 479-437-3750. The Center is currently housing 42 baby animals and 87 species of adult animals.