End of year update 2004

With all the pups and other extras, this summer has been a very hectic one. While the seal pups were absorbing every spare minute, we have to admit to letting Fingal and Sula get on with it themselves a bit. They were as always a favourite with many of our visitors and they delighted us all playing in the pool, snoozing and cuddling up to each other in their holt and foraging for their food in the undergrowth. Fingal and Sula
So in recompense we do have some good plans for winter. While Pete (animal care team) was moving Myrtle to Scarborough he was given some coaching in up to date husbandry and training techniques by the curator of otters who is based at the Scarborough site.
The training is not designed to teach Fingal and Sula performance style tricks. Using food rewards the otters are encouraged to come close to their carers and allow us to perform medical examinations. The technique is known as desensitising and the benefits are that it makes the otters less dangerous to handle and any such examinations are therefore less stressful for everyone. One of our Otters
We also aim to introduce another environmental/feeding enrichment in the form of food rings (plastic rings with holes through which the otters have to remove their food). Although this is a completely unnatural behaviour for the otters it is a good way of keeping them alert and enriches them in their enclosure.
Meanwhile Fingal has been making his own entertainment and has been showing mating interest in Sula, following her around the enclosure and sometimes even getting down to a bit of nuzzling and neck biting. Sadly for Fingal his efforts will never be rewarded because we do not want the brother sister pair to mate. To curtail any chance of babies Fingal was given a vasectomy in February this year.

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