Enrichment for the Otters

by: Megan Gregory, Public Relations Aide at Newport Aquarium

Have you ever been to a zoo or aquarium and noticed something odd in the exhibit? Something that looks like it belongs to a child, like a small slide or Easter Eggs? These weren’t thrown in by accident, these are enrichment tools! These items are placed in the exhibit to stimulate animals both physically and psychologically.

Newport Aquarium is fortunate to have several animals who participate in enrichment, most notably our Asian Small Clawed Otters: Neda and Pork Chop.

What is Enrichment?

Enrichment is an important factor when it comes to an animal’s well-being while under professional care. It’s modifying an animal’s environment to stimulate behaviors like those in the wild.

The Association for Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) requires all accredited facilities to participate in enrichment programs. There are several types that are used on the otters to enhance their well-being: scent, food, physical, auditory, and training are just a few.

Why is Enrichment Important?

When an animal is in the wild, they spend a significant amount of time looking for food, building shelters, mating, and defending their space. While under professional care, they don’t need to worry about any of these things – which is where enrichment comes in. Adding this into their routine is a controlled and safe way to help the animals maintain their ability to adapt to change and stress in their environment.

What Items are used for Enrichment?

There are hundreds of options for enrichment tools. It’s something different for them to explore every day. Some days, there will be hay spread out; other days will be giant Legos. With Easter coming up, biologists have been putting Easter eggs with food or rocks inside of them to encourage the otters to pry them open. They’ll also have an Easter basket with rocks and eggs at the bottom, this gets them to forage a trait they’ll do in the wild. Scents like nutmeg, cinnamon, or other strong smells are spread throughout the exhibit, which keeps them intrigued. You’ll also notice that every once in a while, live fish are put into the pond inside the exhibit to encourage them to hunt.

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Each item has to be approved through Newport Aquarium’s Enrichment Committee before they can be used. It has to have a specific reason: What will this accomplish? Is it for brain stimulation? Is it to encourage exercise? It then has to be inspected for safety, making sure there is absolutely no way this can hurt the animal. After it’s been completely approved by the committee, it goes into a rotation. If the same tools are put on exhibit every day, it defeats the purpose of enrichment and the otters could get bored.

What Happens if the Otters Don’t Cooperate?

At Newport Aquarium, we are proud to participate in Animal Choice Programming. This means, for example, if Neda decides she wouldn’t like to participate in training or enrichment, she doesn’t have to. It’s also important to remember: even though we may not be able to notice it, enrichment is happening every day.

Pork Chop loves ice!

Pork Chop loves to crunch ice.

Neda loves to play with Legos. She's chewed these up a bit.

Neda loves to play with Legos. She’s chewed these up a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see our Asian Small Clawed Otters in Canyon Falls. We have Otter Talks at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. where you’ll get to see Pork Chop, who loves to juggle, and Neda, who loves to play with Legos and shred things apart. Plan your next visit, take a look at the Newport Aquarium Events Calendar here.

Canyon Falls, Newport Aquarium’s newest exhibit, to open Saturday

Rare otters and lizards highlight Aquarium’s latest guest experience


NEWPORT, Ky.
– The all-new Canyon Falls exhibit at Newport Aquarium is set to open to the public 10 a.m. Saturday, March 14.

Canyon Falls, which will occupy the area that formerly housed the Turtle Canyon exhibit, will be the new home to Asian small-clawed otters and some of the world’s most unique reptiles.

“Our guests spoke to us about the desire to bring back otters to Newport Aquarium and we heard them loud and clear,” said Chris Pierson, Newport Aquarium operations director. “From Asian small-clawed otters, to very rare species of lizards, Canyon Falls will offer guests a number of opportunities to experience and learn about the conservation of some truly unique animals.”

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Asian small-clawed otters are back at Newport Aquarium by popular demand as Canyon Falls will initially feature two otters – Neda (female), who came from Kansas City Zoo, and Pork Chop (male), who came from National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The exhibit will offer guests multiple vantage points to see these playful and social animals up close and personal.

Newport Aquarium staff will host scheduled interactive otter talks at Canyon Falls, which will provide guests educational opportunities to learn more about otter biology and conservation. The talks will focus on survival adaptations and how humans directly impact the environment of otters – particularly Asian small-clawed otters, which are listed as a vulnerable species, one category away from endangered, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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In addition to otters, Canyon Falls will include two species of lizard never before seen at Newport Aquarium – yellow monitors, rare and active tree-dwelling lizards from Indonesia, and panther chameleons, one of the most colorful lizards in the world from Madagascar.

Canyon Falls will also feature two popular holdovers from Turtle Canyon: the iconic Thunder, a more than 100-year-old, 155-pound snapping turtle and Newport Aquarium’s oldest resident, will remain in the temple tank; and the Turtle Corral, where guests have the unique opportunity to touch several species of tortoises.

Yellow monitors will be on exhibit at Canyon Falls.

Yellow monitors will be on exhibit at Canyon Falls.

Newport Aquarium Annual Passholders will get to enjoy an exclusive sneak peak of Canyon Falls prior to the aquarium opening to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Canyon Falls Annual Passholder preview is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and will include: Breakfast provided by Chick-fil-A; interactive games; exclusive animal encounters presented by the WAVE Foundation; and photo opportunities with the Chick-fil-A Cow and the stars of Newport Aquarium’s daily Penguin Parade, J.P. and Rocky.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

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Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Newport Aquarium to add North America’s first Shark Bridge

Aquarium’s 2015 exhibits lineup to include – back by popular demand – Otters!


NEWPORT, Ky.
– Newport Aquarium announced Wednesday an exhilarating 2015 lineup of coming attractions, featuring Shark Bridge, the only suspension bridge in North America where guests can walk just inches above nearly two dozen lurking sharks.

Scheduled for a mid-April opening, Shark Bridge is a 100-foot-long, V-shaped rope bridge suspended over the waters of the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit’s 385,000-gallon tank.

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Shark Bridge will be the first of its kind in North America.

Should guests dare to cross, Shark Bridge will offer an exclusive adventure and unique perspective of walking closely atop seven species of sharks, four rare and exotic shark rays, multiple stingrays and more than 300 fish.

Shark Bridge will be a completely new way to experience sharks and a truly one-of-a-kind attraction available nowhere but Newport Aquarium,” said Eric Rose, executive director. “Our diverse collection of sharks is the cornerstone of our more than 90 exhibits, and guests will now be able to experience them like they never have.”

The addition of Shark Bridge will triple the viewing area above the Surrounded by Sharks tank prior to guests exiting the aquarium.

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks
Coinciding with the opening of Shark Bridge in mid-April, extremely rare scalloped hammerhead sharks will be added to the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

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Newport Aquarium will be the first institution in North America to exhibit multiple scalloped hammerhead sharks.

This exhibition of scalloped hammerheads will help communicate the species’ conservation message to the public.

Newport Aquarium is working with field researchers from Hawaii, where the new hammerheads originated, to educate the public about scalloped hammerhead conservation.

The scalloped hammerheads will join 17 other sharks currently in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit that include sand tiger, zebra, sandbar, blacktip, whitetip and nurse sharks.

Canyon Falls (featuring Otters)
Coming in mid-March, Newport Aquarium will open its newest exhibit, Canyon Falls, which will occupy the area that currently houses the Turtle Canyon exhibit.

Canyon Falls will be the new home to Asian small-clawed otters, which are back by popular demand after the aquarium previously exhibited otters from 2004 to 2013.

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Asian small-clawed otters are returning to Newport Aquarium in mid-March.

Newport Aquarium will offer scheduled otter talks at Canyon Falls that provide guests educational opportunities to learn more about otters and otter conservation.

Other additions to Canyon Falls include two species of lizard never before seen at Newport Aquarium – yellow monitor, a rare and active tree-dwelling lizard from Indonesia, and panther chameleon, one of the most colorful lizards in the world from Madagascar.

Remaining in Canyon Falls will be Thunder, a more than 100-year-old snapping turtle and Newport Aquarium’s oldest resident, as well as the Turtle Corral, where guests have the unique opportunity to touch several species of tortoises.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids
Mermaids from Weeki Wachee Springs, Fla., will return to Newport Aquarium in October. The announcement of their return comes on the heels of their wildly popular 10-day visit to Newport Aquarium in October 2014, which was the 67-year-old institution’s first visit to the Midwest.

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Weeki Wachee Mermaids will make a second engagement at Newport Aquarium in October.

Further details of Weeki Wachee Mermaids returning to Newport Aquarium will be announced on a later date.

Scuba Santa’s® Water Wonderland
A newly reimagined Scuba Santa’s® Water Wonderland will return for its 13th season on Nov. 27. The 2015 edition of Scuba Santa® promises to offer guests new features and experiences. Further details will be provided on a later date.

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A newly re-imagined Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland will make its debut in November.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

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Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com