When and Where to See Otters
in zoological parks, aquariums and conservation centers

By Jan Reed-Smith

When you are going to a zoo to see otters, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of actually "seeing" them. After all, they are generally most active in the morning or early evening, not the times when most of us visit a zoo. First, go when the zoo opens or go later in the afternoon and plan on staying until it closes. Second, if you don't see them at first, look around-especially under trees, bushes, logs, etc. Third, if you still do not see them, go and see some of the other animals and try again later. Fourth, ask an employee (or keeper if you can find one) when the animals might be active. Animals frequently have typical activity patterns, and the animal you see sleeping at 11 a.m. may often be up and swimming at noon.

If you are lucky and the animals are active, watch for these behaviors: periscoping (standing up on their hind legs to look around-they are nosy and you can't see much when you are that low to the ground); roll grooming (they roll around on their backs and squirm, a great way to dry and clean your coat); self grooming; hauling straw, grass or whatever from one place to another (bed-making otter style); latrine dance (self explanatory); and (of course!) playing, chasing and swimming. Try and stay awhile; you will increase your chances of seeing the animals active or observing something interesting, and if you don't, it's a nice way to spend an hour.

This list is not exhaustive, but here are some of the places you can go to see otters. The city where the facility is located is listed only if it is not self-evident in the name. In all uses, "N.A." is an abbreviation for "North American" (river) otters.

Otter at Metro-Toronto Zoo in Ontario, Photo by Kurt Butkiewicz

    African Lion Safari, Rockton, Ontario - N.A. otters
    Assiniboine Park Zoo, Winnipeg, Manitoba - N.A. otters
    Biodome, Montreal, Quebec - N.A. otters
    Calgary Zoo, Alberta, Canada - N.A. otters
    Granby Park Zoo, Quebec - Cape clawless otters
    Jardin Zoologique De St. Felicien, St. Felicien, Quebec - N.A. otters
    Quebec Zoo, Quebec - N.A. otters
    Salmonier Nature Park, St. Johns, Newfoundland - N.A. otters
    Toronto Zoo, Toronto, Scarborough, Ontario - N.A. otters & Spotted-necked otters
    Valley Children's Zoo, Edmonton, Alberta - N.A. otters


    Birmingham Zoo - Asian small-clawed otters


    Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson - N.A. otters
    Phoenix Zoo - Cape clawless otters
    Reid Park Zoo, Tucson - Asian small-clawed otters


    Little Rock Zoo - N.A. otters

Asian Small-Clawed Otters at Santa Barbara Zoo, California, Photo by Chris Wittenbrink

    Monterey Bay Aquarium - sea otters
    Oakland Zoo, Knowland Park in Oakland - N.A. otters
    Sacramento Zoo - N.A. otters
    San Diego Zoo - N.A. otters, European otters & Asian small-clawed otters
    San Francisco Zoo - N.A. otters
    Santa Barbara Zoo - Asian small-clawed otters


    Colorado Springs Zoo - Asian small-clawed otters
    Colorado Ocean Journey, Denver - N.A. otters & sea otters
    Denver Zoo - N.A. otters Connecticut
    Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport - N.A. otters


    Brandywine Zoo, Wilmington - N.A. otters


    Brevard Zoo, Melbourne - N.A. otters
    Clearwater Marine Aquarium - N.A. otters
    Disney Wild Animal Park, Orlando - Asian small-clawed otters
    Flamingo Gardens, Ft. Lauderdale - N.A. otters
    Homosassa Springs State Park, Homosassa Springs - N.A. otters
    Jacksonville Zoo - N.A. otters
    Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa - N.A. otters
    Miami Metro Zoo - Asian small-clawed otters
    Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science - N.A. otters
    The Florida Aquarium, Tampa - N.A. otters
    The Zoo, Gulf Breeze - N.A. otters
    Zooworld, Panama City Beach - N.A. otters


    Zoo Atlanta - Asian small-clawed otters


    Boise Zoo - N.A. otters
    Tautphaus Park Zoo, Idaho Falls - N.A. otters


    Brookfield Zoo, Chicago - N.A. otters & Asian small-clawed otters
    Glen Oak Zoo, Peoria - N.A. otters
    Henson Robinson Zoo, Springfield - N.A. otters
    Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago - N.A. otters & Asian small-clawed otters
    Miller Park Zoo, Bloominton - N.A. otters
    Niabi Zoological Park, Moline - N.A. otters
    Shedd Aquarium, Chicago - N.A. otters, sea otters
    Wildlife Prairie Park, Peoria - N.A. otters


    Fort Wayne Children's Zoo - N.A. otters


    Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines - N.A. otters


    Hutchinson Zoo - N.A. otters
    Lee Richardson Zoo, Garden City - N.A. otters
    Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita - N.A. otters
    Sunset Zoo, Manhattan - N.A. otters
    Topeka Zoo - Asian small-clawed otters


    Louisville Zoo - N.A. otters Louisiana
    Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans - sea otters
    Audubon Zoo, New Orleans - N.A. otters & Asian small-clawed otters
    Alexandria Zoo - N.A. otters
    Greater Baton Rouge Zoo - N.A. otters
    Zoo of Acadiana, Broussard - N.A. otters


    Baltimore Zoo - N.A. otters
    Salisbury Zoo - N.A. otters


    Capron Park, Attleboro - N.A. otters
    Franklin Park Zoo, Boston - N.A. otters
    Worchester Science Center - N.A. otters

Otter at John Ball Zoo, Photo by Jan Reed-Smith

    Clinch Park Zoo, Traverse City - N.A. otters
    Detroit Zoo - N.A. otters
    John Ball Zoo, Grand Rapids - N.A. otters
    Potter Park Zoo, Lansing - N.A. otters


    Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth - N.A. otters
    Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley (Minneapolis) - N.A. otters & Asian small-clawed otters


    Dickerson Park Zoo, Springfield - N.A. otters
    Kansas City Zoo - N.A. otters & Asian small-clawed otters
    St. Louis Zoo - N.A. otters


    Zoo Montana, Billings - N.A. otters


    Folsom Children's Zoo, Lincoln - N.A. otters
    Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha - N.A. otters & Asian small-clawed otters
    Riverside Park Zoo, Scottsbluff - N.A. otters

North Carolina

    The North Carolina Zoological Park, Asheboro - N.A. otters & spotted-necked otters

North Dakota

    Dakota Zoo, Bismarck - N.A. otters

New Jersey

    Cape May Zoo - N.A. otters New Mexico
    Alameda Park Zoo, Alamogordo - N.A. otters

New York
Otter at Niagara Falls Aquarium, Photo by Kurt Butkiewicz

    Bronx Zoo, N.Y. - N.A. otters & Asian small-clawed otters
    Burnet Park Zoo, Syracuse - N.A. otters
    Central Park Zoo, N.Y. - N.A. otters
    Niagara Falls Aquarium, Niagara Falls - N.A. otters
    Seneca Park Zoo, Rochester - N.A. otters
    Staten Island Zoo, N.Y. - N.A. otters
    Trevor Zoo, Millbrook - N.A. otters
    Turtleback Zoo, West Orange - N.A. otters


    Akron Zoo - N.A. otters
    Cincinnati Zoo - N.A. otters
    Cleveland Zoo - Asian small-clawed otters
    Columbus Zoo - N.A. otters
    Toledo Zoo - Cape Clawless otters


    Tulsa - N.A. otters Oregon
    High Desert Museum, Bend - N.A. otters
    Oregon Zoo, Portland - N.A. otters

Giant Otter at Philadelphia Zoo, Photo by Tracy Johnston

    Elmwood Park Zoo, Norristown - N.A. otters
    Erie Zoo - N.A. otters
    Philadelphia Zoo - N.A. otters

    Pittsburgh Zoo - N.A. otters
    Trexler Lehigh County Game Preserve, Schnecksville - N.A. otters
    ZOOAMERICA, Hershey - N.A. otters

South Carolina

    Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet - N.A. otters


    Knoxville Zoo - N.A. otters
    Nashville Zoo (Grassmere Wildlife Park) - N.A. otters
    Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga - N.A. otters


    Caldwell Zoo - N.A. otters
    Ellen Trout Zoo, Lufkin - N.A. otters
    The Texas Zoo, Victoria - N.A. otters
    The Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi - N.A. otters


    Virginia Living Museum, Newport News - N.A. otters

Washington State

    Northwest Trek, Eatonville - N.A. otters
    Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle - N.A. otters
    Seattle Aquarium - sea otters

Washington, D.C.

    National Zoo - Asian small-clawed otters

West Virginia

    Oglebay's Good Children's Zoo, Wheeling - N.A. otters


    Green Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Green Bay - N.A. otters
    Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison - N.A. otters
    Milwaukee Zoo - N.A. otters
    NEW Zoo, Greenbay - N.A. otters
    Racine Zoo - N.A. otters