Down at Weymouth Sea Life Park, Jonny the Short-clawed otter has recently welcomed a new female roommate into his expansive sanctuary residence and he appears to have been instantly smitten.
“The attraction was immediate, and has grown ever since Lilly’s arrival in April. After a brief acclimatisation, Lilly seemed fascinated by her new home whilst Jonny appeared to begin honing his courting skills”, said Supervisor of Displays Matt Fuller.
“Whenever there is a new arrival there will always be a slight concern how well they will acclimatise and we monitor the animals very closely”, said Matt, “but we need not have worried in this case. Jonny’s romantic ambitions appear to have made Lilly feel very welcome!”
Bridging the 11 year age gap, Jonny has been courting new arrival, one year old Lilly, by showering her with attention and gifts, and earning himself a reputation as something of a sugar daddy.
“Having lived the single life for the past four years, Jonny is used to ruling his domain. However, since Lilly arrived Jonny has allowed himself to be pushed around and chirps lovingly at her”
“He has also been seen sharing his food during public feeds, which is unheard of in the otter world due to the amount they like to consume.”
It could be a while before Lilly will be ready to mate as Short-clawed otters usually reach maturity at around two years old. Thereafter, if the romance blossoms, Weymouth Sea Life Park can hope to enjoy the pitter patter of baby otter feet.
“Sea Life has already seen successful otter breeding colonies in Scarborough and Hunstanton and we hope to emulate the same success here,” said Matt.
The Oriental Short-Clawed otter is one of the least endangered of all otter species and this status had led them to being the heroes of the otter world; in captivity they are used to develop and improve husbandry methods and breeding programmes, and this knowledge has helped critically endangered otter species such as the Sea Claw otter and Brazilian otter escape extinction.
In making the leap from hero to lothario, the next big step for Jonny to take is to share his favourite food. Matt explains, “Jonny loves his food and isn’t particularly fussy, but he does love red meat. At the moment he’s sharing his fish, but we’ll know his feelings are true if he allows Lilly to share the whole feast!”