At noon on Sunday, November 13, 2011, Clearwater Marine Aquarium received a phone call about a North American River Otter lying on the side of the road, which appeared to have been hit by a car. The phone call came in from a citizen who did not hit the otter, yet stopped to assist. After the call was received, Jaime Alverez left the aquarium to head out to New Port Richey where the otter was. The people who called had placed a blanket under the otter and Jamie, equipped with a crate was able to grab the blanket and pull the otter into the crate, for transport to the aquarium.
At that point the otter’s respirations were very abnormal, she did not appear to be using her back end and she had blood in her urine as well as blood coming from her nose. While at CMA the staff continued contact with our consulting veterinarian, Dr. Walsh using SKYPE to allow Dr. Walsh to view the physical needs and appearance of the otter. It was assessed that we needed to provide 24-hour care administering fluids and medication, and our immediate concern was to ensure that she was stable.
When the otter first came in, we thought it was a male; therefore, we named the otter Richey. Upon further care, we recognized that it was a girl!!! We then immediately changed the name to Portia – another play on New Port Richey.
Around the clock care was provided and by Monday November 14th, the otter made a tremendous comeback. She was taking whole fish by midnight and drinking a water solution from a dog dish on her own. Portia started moving around quite well, enabling us to transfer her from one crate to the next for cleaning purposes. The blood in her urine was diminishing.
Tuesday November 15th and Wednesday November 16th proved to also be fascinating recovery days. There was no blood seen in the urine, and the staff fed whole fish and gave fluids through the crate. We only moved her when necessary for cleaning purposes. Portia was using her legs well and was vocalizing and standing up on her back end at times.
Thursday November 17th, Dr. Walsh and team came to CMA for their weekly visits and were impressed with the remarkable recovery. At that point, we called Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Sanibel Island, Florida, to assist with moving Portia onto the next phase in recovery. She was transported to CROW on Thursday evening where she did quite well during the transport. She was given shrimp, herring and mullet as soon as she was settled in her bed at CROW. Portia will continue the rest of her rehab at CROW in Sanibel until she is able to be released.
Our efforts from day one were to be able to rescue, rehabilitate and release Portia if able. While rehabilitating, we did not form bonds or relationships with Portia, but rather assisted with care as necessary, which of course is a very different mindset from our resident animals. If it weren’t for the combined efforts of the citizen who called in the otter, the trainers, our vet team and our neighboring rescue facilities, Portia may have not been so lucky. We are proud to be a part of another success story.