OTTERS have returned to Kendal town centre with a mother and her cubs delighting passers-by with their frolicking in the River Kent.

Their playful watery antics are not just cheering up members of the public but have also lifted the spirits of conservationists and users of social media.

“The recovery of the otter is a remarkable conservation success story, with the otter population in Cumbria expanding from a tiny number in the 1990s to the point today where there are otters in almost every suitable water body in the county,” said David Harpley, Conservation Officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

He believes the recovery is down to improvements in water quality and the phasing out of some of the more toxic industrial and agricultural chemicals. The same recovery is beginning to happen across Europe.

But Mr Harpley says people should make the most of the Kendal otters’ antics now.

“This current phase of high activity won’t last as the young grow up and disperse to look for new territories," he said. "But with any luck an otter family will be gracing the Kent with their presence again next year.”

A video of the otters can be seen on The Westmorland Gazette's Facebook page and on the Cumbria Wildlife Trust Twitter feed @cumbriawildife. The Trust would love to see sightings and is asking people to tag them #Otters #LoveWildlife.

One Gazette Facebook user said: "I saw one of the babies on Friday at work. It was so cute and looked at me when I made the cat calling noise."

Another wrote: "Wow absolutely amazing" while other comments included "Absolutely stunning" and "Brilliant."

The Gazette reported in 2012 that onlookers had been lining the banks of the River Kent, from the Riverside Hotel to K Village, to see the playful antics of a family of three otters. They appeared to disappear after that year but now they are back.

Otters are a heavily protected species because of past declines and it is an offence to disturb them.