Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Conservation Flying Company LightHawk Helps Brookfield Zoo Relocate North American River Otter

On Monday, July 9, Kate, a North American river otter born at Brookfield Zoo, received a first-class trip to Calgary Zoo thanks to the conservation flying company LightHawk. The nonprofit aims to accelerate conservation through flight. A huge thanks goes to Pilot Chuck Yanke, a LightHawk volunteer who generously donated his plane and time to fly Kate to Canada. Accompanying Yanke was Julie Tromblay, also a LightHawk volunteer who was the copilot.

The transfer of Kate to Calgary Zoo was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ North American River Otter Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative population management and conservation program. An SSP manages the breeding of otters in zoos to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically.

Kate was born at Brookfield Zoo in February 2017 weighing about 7 ounces. When she left for Calgary Zoo, she was full-sized and weighed just over 15 pounds. North American river otters are the only inland otter species in North America and are part of the weasel family. They typically stay under water for one to two minutes, but can do so for up to eight. Their small ears and nostrils can be closed underwater, allowing them to hold their breath.

Kate is currently enjoying her new home at Calgary Zoo. Although she is on her own right now, she is being introduced to the other otters, Charlotte & Finnegan. (You can stop by and welcome Kate to her new home at the Cequel Energy Lodge at Calgary Zoo.) We’ll miss you Kate, but we are certain that you are in good hands!


Posted: 8/15/2018 12:47:59 PM by Sabrina Cynova

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read the latest exciting stories about how our experts are advancing the science of “animal-directed” care through innovative programs at Brookfield Zoo and global field efforts.


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