Baby otters are having a tough time this winter due to the unpredictability of the British weather. New Forest Wildlife Park has rescued 14 baby otters in the last few months after they became separated from their mothers during heavy rain and floods.
The otter cubs, mostly aged from eight to ten weeks, have been sent to New Forest Wildlife Park in Hampshire from locations all across the country, including Yorkshire, Cheshire and Wales.
Expert keepers are looking after the cubs at the park and they are all doing well. They are being kept away from human contact as much as possible, so they can be returned to the wild when they are able to fend for themselves.
?Many of the rivers have become swollen in the last few months because of all the rain,? said New Forest Wildlife Park owner Carol Heap, who has been involved in otter conservation for over 30 years. ?The ground has become sodden and many areas have had severe floods. This means that otter holts have also flooded and the cubs have been vulnerable, just at the point where they are starting to come out of the holts. Often they are with their mothers but then get washed away by the strong currents.
?We have taken in many abandoned or injured otters before but this year has been unprecedented in terms of the number of baby otters we have received. We will have to look after them for at least 15 months, when they should then be strong enough to go back to the wild.?
It costs around ?3000 to look after each otter cub and to provide food, shelter, staffing and veterinary care. New Forest Wildlife Park receives no funding for its wildlife rescue work but subsidises this activity and its conservation work with endangered species through the park?s other activities, such as visits, keeper days and school trips.
New Forest Wildlife Park is owned by Carol and Roger Heap, who are dedicated to wildlife conservation. Carol and Roger also run the Chestnut Centre Conservation and Wildlife Park in Derbyshire and Battersea Park Children?s Zoo in London.
New Forest Wildlife Park is home to many native or adoptive species, including Eurasian, Asian short-clawed and North American River otters and the endangered giant otter.? There are many species of owls, plus foxes, wallabies, pine marten, polecats, wild boar, wolves, European bison, lynx, ferrets and harvest mice. Many species of deer ? including sika, roe and fallow deer ? also roam freely around the park and from Easter to October there?s also a tropical butterfly house, where you can watch live pupae hatching into beautiful butterflies.
The park has timed animal feeding sessions throughout the day, animal encounters on certain days and keeper talks about the amazing wildlife. There are also two fantastic adventure playgrounds for adults and children alike ? Go Wild! and Mini Go Wild!
To find out more about the exciting activities at New Forest Wildlife Park visit http://www.newforestwildlifepark.co.ukThe New Forest Wildlife Park is at Deerleap Lane, Longdown, Marchwood, Southampton, SO41 4UH. Tel 02380 292408. www.newforestwildlifepark.co.ukNew Forest Wildlife Park is a Wildlife Investor of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.