- An otter named Otto died last week at a Tennessee nature preserve after visitors threw food into his enclosure, the Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium said in a statement.
- The park said that human food is often intolerable for otters and urged people to heed the signs warning against feeding the animals.
- Otto first arrived at the park in October 2017 after he and his siblings lost their parents in a flood.
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A playful otter who was beloved by staff and visitors at a Tennessee nature preserve died last week, not long after visitors had thrown human food into his enclosure.
“Otto the otter fell ill after park guests threw food into his enclosure that his body could not tolerate,” the Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium said in a statement on May 30.
Staff said his exact cause of death is unknown but that they’re conducting a necropsy to determine it.
“Human food is often intolerable and, in this case, even harmful to our animals,” staff warned the public in a statement. “Please follow all posted park rules, including the signs that say not to feed the animals.”
Park staff discovered grapes in Otto’s enclosure days after he died, but they’re not yet positive that those were the food that led to his death, park manager Rob Cole told the Kingsport Times-News.
Otto first arrived at the park in October 2017, when he was 9 months old, staff said. He and his siblings lost their parents in a flood, and though the nature preserve wanted to release them into the wild, they “lost their fear of humans” and Otto stayed at the park.
“Otto was beloved by park staff and guests alike,” another statement said. “A cheerful creature, he could often be found swimming or playing with toys in his pool, even when it was snowing outside.”
The nature preserve posted dozens of photos to its Facebook page showing Otto playfully scampering about his enclosure, eating fish, and peeking out at visitors through the fencing.
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