Otters still Terry´s Favourite in spite of lost Fingers!
A man who lost two fingers to an angry otter officially unveiled the new otter enclosure at the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary on Tuesday 20th August 2002.

He was well-known TV ´wild´ man Terry Nutkins who lost his digits when he was 15-years-old and a protégé of the late Ring of Bright Water author Gavin Maxwell. The incident at Maxwell´s west highland retreat just a few hours north of the Oban-based Sanctuary failed to dampen Terry´s enthusiasm for otters, however. Which is why the former Really Wild Show presenter happily agreed to open the Sanctuary´s new Otter Creek...and even get inside the 500 square metre enclosure to meet its two residents, a pair of North American river otters, at close quarters.

Terry´s accident came when he was living and working with Maxwell and his family of otters in a remote loch-side retreat just an hour or two further up the coast. African otter Edal - one of the many made famous worldwide by Maxwell´s books - had, a week earlier, taken an instant dislike to a visiting lady zoo-keeper, and sunk its teeth into her ankle. Before she left the woman gave Terry her sweater, but the first time he put it on Edal attacked him. "It was a very long time ago and I don´t recall every detail," said Terry. "I just remember Edal going beserk and latching onto a finger. "All I could think to do was get her to the door, throw her outside and slam the door shut quickly.

"Unfortunately, by the time I reached the door she had chewed right through the finger, and as I launched her she twisted in the air and managed to nip most of another finger off the other hand." A local doctor made a valiant attempt to sew the severed fingers back on, but gangrene set in.

In his Ring of Bright Water follow-up ´The Rocks Remain,´ Maxwell described the scene on the removal of Terry´s bandages: "The top two joints of the second finger of the right hand had literally been chewed off, as had a slightly lesser portion of the same finger of the other hand. "The doctor had somehow contrived to stitch them on again, but now they were very dead indeed. "Terry looked at them dispassionately: ´Chop ´em off, Doctor,´ he said, ´that ruddy lot´s no good to anyone.´

Back working with otters after just 10 days, Terry went on to work as a zoo-keeper and later as a presenter of Animal Magic, The Really Wild Show, Brilliant Creatures and many other popular programmes. He is currently planning a round-the-world wildlife filming expedition next year. But otters have remained a firm favourite, and Terry is now able to watch wild Scottish otters playing near his home, less than a mile from the scene of that grisly episode over 40 years ago.

The Sanctuary´s new residents, refugees from an overcrowded colony at an Essex wildlife park, will help raise awareness of conservation efforts on behalf of those native otters. Brother and sister, they are just over a year old and full of mischief...but the new facility with its own holt, deep diving pool, streams and shallower pools has plenty to keep them occupied.

Visitors are able to view them from either an overhead balcony or via an underwater window.

Back