A river otter appears to have taken up residence in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver and is eating the koi out of the ponds.
The otter was captured on video this weekend diving into the pond and eating the koi, some which are decades-old and can be expensive to replace.
“This is actually the first time we’ve seen an otter in the Chinese garden,” Debbie Cheung, marketing and communications manager for the gardens, told Global News.
“It took us by surprise too.”
The otter was first seen on Saturday and was still there on Monday.
“We have really big koi that have been here for many, many years,” Cheung said.
“We have one koi that is 50-something years old and we hope that she’s doing OK.”
They know the otter has killed at least two adult koi fish so far. “We have picked up the bodies and buried them,” Cheung added.
On Monday, Global News cameras caught the otter appearing to capture and eat other koi.
Staff at the gardens have reached out to the Vancouver Aquarium and the Vancouver Park Board for help trapping and relocating the animal.
“It is a river otter so we had to go through different organizations and departments to see who can come and help us catch the little guy and release it,” Cheung said.
The Vancouver Aquarium confirmed to Global News they have offered to help wherever they can. Under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, they are only permitted to work with marine mammals, and river otters are not marine mammals.
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The Vancouver Park Board confirmed to Global News that staff will be in attendance at the gardens on Tuesday.
Cheung said in the meantime, they hope the otter does not affect the ecosystem of the pond.
“We had a pond restoration in 2017 because there was quite a large die-off two years before then, so we have around 14 big koi and this year, we were able to get some koi spawning so there are more baby kois,” she explained.
“However, because there are predators around, such as the otter, so there are less baby kois so now we have maybe 12 or 11 left, maybe?”
“I think it’s found its food source and it just doesn’t want to leave.”