Wild Otters take over the City-State of SingaPore
With the quiet of the streets during Covid, a sleek brown fur-bearing mustelid has taken over the city of Singapore. The financial capital of Asia was not prepared to be invaded by families of otters, who have taken over the streets, parks, beaches, private swimming pools and many public places throughout the city.
Several years ago, Singapore was making efforts to protect the smooth Asian otters. The mustelid’s return to the Singapore waterways was “hailed as a conservation success story and vindication of the government’s efforts to turn the manufacturing powerhouse into a lush ‘garden city' envisioned by the country’s founding prime minister” reports the Wall Street Journal (Dec 17, 2021). For the past decade wild otters were making their way from the outlying islands surrounding Singapore to the city's center. A 2019 national parks newsletter called the water-loving animals the “new citizens,” noting that Singapore itself has historically been a nation of immigrants. In 2016, Singapore hosted the 13th International Otter Congress, a gathering of "otter experts” who greeted the arrival of the 3-foot slinky animals as “the return of the otters.”
Although natives and tourist stop to take their photos, not all residents are thrilled with the new settlers. With populations now in the hundreds, locals have had run-ins when jogging or bicycling, bites have been reports, as well as missing ornamental carp from local pounds and lakes.
One local citizens’ group, Ottercity which is supportive of the furry residents, has been following the “Zouk,” a wandering family of more than a dozen otters, that was displaced by stronger families and is continuing its search for a permanent home in the City State. The Zouks, so named because the original family was first noted at the location of "Zouk," a prominent Singapore nightclub, are considered the world's most “urban-adaptive” otters.
To watch the otters in action, view the BBC Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7f6s2g8C0I