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Taj and Missi the river otters arrive at Montreal's Ecomuseum Zoo

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Missi and Taj have arrived.

The Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on Montreal's West Island announced Wednesday that two river otters have arrived in time for the holidays.

Following the death of Pika on Aug. 24, the outdoor zoo's otter habitat was vacant while crews carried out renovation and restoration work.

Pika died after going into cardiac arrest after being placed under anesthesia.

It is somewhat of a homecoming for Taj, who is the son of Najoua, a former resident of the Ecomuseum.

She left in 2019 because she did not get along with Pika, who was "more of a loner," according to the zoo.

"The individuality of river otters can range from the highly social to the exclusively solitary," the Ecomuseum said in a news release.

Taj is the new river otter at the Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. SOURCE: Ecomuseum

After Pika died, staff at the zoo renovated and improved the habitat by thoroughly cleaning the living space and pond and rearranging the green spaces and sandy beaches.

In addition, there were some repairs.

"Otters having lived in the living space in recent years, had acquired the playful habit of tearing off window insulation, so this was reviewed as well," said ecomuseum communications director Sarah Prince-Robin. "Hopefully these new otters won’t find the same game."

Joining the more social Taj is Missi, a nine-year-old female.

The zoo says Taj and Missi will not be integrated into educational activities, such as the Breakfast with Otters, for several weeks as they acclimatize to their new living space and develop familiarity with the animal care and veterinary teams.

"However, they are already fully active and can be observed by visitors," the zoo said. "Our education team and naturalist guides will be on hand to answer any questions the curious may have, especially during the holiday season when the zoo will be offering a number of special activities."

Taj's mother lived at the Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue where he is now a resident. SOURCE: Ecomuseum

Some fun facts about river otters:

  • They can weigh up to 14 kg. and grow to be more than a metre long from head to tail.
  • They are part of a group of mammals called Mustelids, along with weasels, minks, wolverines and others.
  • They can hold their breath for up to eight minutes.
  • They wash themselves after every meal.
  • They can dive up to 60 feet.
  • A male otter is called a dog or a boar and females are called bitches or sows.
  • Some hold hands while sleeping.
  • A group of otters is called a "romp."

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