CALGARY – An investigation by the Calgary Zoo found an otter that died last week drowned after becoming tangled in pants given to it by a zookeeper.
Twelve-year-old river otter Logan passed away after he was found struggling in the otter pool at around 11 a.m. on Feb. 11. The Calgary Zoo said a zookeeper jumped into the pool to assist the animal, but it didn’t survive.
READ MORE: LIST – Animal deaths at the Calgary Zoo
On Wednesday, The Calgary Zoo revealed the otter had drowned after becoming tangled in an “unauthorized enrichment item” – a pair of pants – given to it by a zookeeper.
Curator Colleen Baird said a keeper put the pants in with the otters in their dry “burrow” area. The otters then took them out into the water with them, and Logan drowned after he was trapped inside a leg of the pants.
The Calgary Zoo said its investigation identified that zoo protocols were broken by two staff members who have since been disciplined.
“I can’t go into the details of what that [discipline] is,” Baird said, though she stated they did still work at the zoo and hadn’t been fired.
“Those staff members feel horrible, as does the whole zoo.”
“This error is simply unacceptable,” Baird said. “Our animal care protocols are among the most stringent in the industry and must be followed.”
“We will be reinforcing our protocols with every member of our Animal Care staff to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again.”
Staff said normal enrichment items for otters would include clam and mussel shells, plastic floatable balls, and parts of trees.
There are now three remaining river otters in the Cequel Lodge in the Canadian Wilds section of the Calgary Zoo: 16-year-old Callebaut, 12-year-old Charlotte, and one-year-old Finnegan. Keepers are now monitoring the remaining animals for signs of stress.
Calgary Zoo has had otters since 1967; Logan’s drowning is believed to be the first time an otter has died because of something other than natural causes.
With files from Global’s Gil Tucker
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