Zoo, also called zoological garden or zoological park, place where wild animals and, in some instances, domesticated animals are exhibited in captivity.. Most long-established zoos exhibit general collections of animals, but some formed more recently specialize in particular groups�e.g., primates, big cats, tropical birds, or waterfowl. Marine invertebrates, fishes, and marine mammals often are kept in separate establishments known as aquariums.
The river otter, a member of the weasel family, is equally versatile in the water and on land. It establishes a burrow close to the water's edge in river, lake, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Female otters give birth in these underground burrows, producing litters of one to six young.
North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians, turtles, and crayfish. Instances of river otters eating small mammals and occasionally birds have been reported as well.
The range of the North American river otter has been significantly reduced by habitat loss, beginning with the European colonization of North America. In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. River otters are very susceptible to environmental pollution, which is a likely factor in the continued decline of their numbers. A number of reintroduction projects have been initiated to help stabilize the reduction in the overall population.
February 1st, 2013
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