STAFF at a Lake District visitor attraction leapt into action to help save two wild otter pups abandoned or separated from their mother.
Sarah Neill and Sias Del-port were alerted to their plight by a local resident who spotted them while she was out walking. She had not seen any adult otter guarding or feeding them.
Following a bad frost 48 hours after she first saw them, the woman called the Lakes Aquarium at Lakeside, near Newby Bridge.
One of the pups had been rescued and taken into the woman’s house. Sias and aquarist Sarah collected both pups shortly after the phone call.
Sarah is a qualified marine mammal medic for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue service. They put her in touch with the International Otter Survival Fund, which advised her on what to do for the long-term care of the pups.
Her first action was to create a temporary ‘holt’ in a nest box filled with straw and towels – and then she fed them every four hours with Lectate, which provides substitute nutrients, and lactose-free milk by syringe. She also hand-fed them trout flakes.
The longer-term aim was to deliver them to an otter rehabilitation centre on the Isle of Skye, where they are now being weaned and kept together before being taught how to catch fish. In a year’s time, they will be released where they were found – the location is being kept secret for the protection of other otters in the area.
Sarah named the two ‘Bub-ble’ and ‘Squeak’ and the rehabilitation centre has promised to keep the names. “The pups were adorable and no trouble to look after, keep warm and feed,” said Sarah.
“We know they are now in safe hands and will be given the best possible re-introduction into the wild when a little older.”
Sias added: “We are delighted that the walker called us and took action to help save these pups.
“We did all we could in the short term and hope that our intervention helped the two little heroes survive during a very cold snap.”