Zoo Grieves the Loss of Wilson the River Otter

Our hearts are heavy with the loss of Wilson, the North American River Otter who passed away on Monday. On Sunday zookeepers noticed his behavior to be slightly abnormal and were monitoring him. He was found dead in his exhibit first thing Monday morning. A full necropsy will be performed by UC Davis to determine the cause of death. Wilson was considered an older otter and was thought to be around 14-years-old. In the wild North American River Otters can live up to 10 years and up to 20 in captivity.

“Wilson will be a tough loss for everyone,” said zookeeper Erik Bowker.  “He was an amazing otter to work with due to his incredible intelligence and love for foods of all kind.  He was a wonderful ambassador for his species and drew the attention of kids and adults alike.  His ability to interacting with the public delighted many as he often stood nose-to-nose with children at the glass of his exhibit.  He will be greatly missed.”

Wilson was wild born in South Carolina but unfortunately was orphaned with his sibling. He was considered non-releasable by authorities and was given a home in a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He came to the Sacramento Zoo in 2006 and shared an exhibit with Percy, the female North American River Otter. Wilson’s last extensive veterinary exam was April 16, 2013 including a full blood panel test and physical exam. The veterinarians did not find anything abnormal or cause for concern. 

North American River Otters are native to the freshwater rivers and streams in the United States. The largest concentration of otters in California is the Suisun Marsh, about 40 miles from Sacramento. They can also be found in the Yolo Basin, and the American River range, even stretching to the foothills. 

Photo credit: Amanda Mayberry

Photo credit: Chris Llewellyn
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