I'm a freelance travel writer living in Brisbane. Visit my blog at www.aussieglobetrotter.net.
Published September 2nd 2016
A close encounter that’s a whole lot of fun
The squeaks draw me near; vocal calls not dissimilar to those emitted by Sweep from the classic 1980's television show, The Sooty Show. Mayhem and Rosie, two Asian small-clawed otters, were darting around their habitat like children hyped up after skulling red cordial all morning.
Asian small-clawed otters
They had their routine down pat – a refreshing dip in the pool was followed by a quick groom a split second later, then they played on a hollow log before digging frantically near the door in an attempt to reach the keepers' and their lunch before diving into the water for another swim, repeating the whole routine.
I was eagerly awaiting their lunch as well as I would be interacting with these adorable creatures during Australia Zoo's Utterly Outrageous Otter Encounter.
At 1.15pm a keeper met me at the otter habitat and led me through a wooden gate into the enclosure. After a quick overview of the program, the fun commenced!
Perched on my lap, Mayhem stretched his slender body, inquisitively reaching out for the meal worms and pork pieces I held my hand. His dense, silky fur glistened as he displayed great dexterity using his partially webbed paws like hands, delicately picking up each morsel of food and munching with teeth strong enough to crush a crab shell. Mayhem trilled as he feasted; just one of the dozen different vocal sounds produced by otters.
Otter Encounter - Image taken by Australia Zoo Photography
Mayhem is a relatively new arrival at Australia Zoo, arriving in August 2015. This 15 year old is a social otter and the boss of the romp. Weighing approximately 3 kilograms, Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of the 13 species of otter found worldwide.
Once Mayhem had devoured his quota of food, I observed Rosie, a cheeky and playful otter with golden whiskers, gently prodding the ground with her paws to locate her meal worms.
Australia Zoo's Utterly Outrageous Otter Encounter costs $79 and includes a fridge magnet with a photo from the day. A disc of photos is available for an additional $50. Entry into Australia Zoo is not included in the price. As participation is limited to two guests per day, advanced bookings are recommended.
Located one hour north of Brisbane on Steve Irwin Way at Beerwah, Australia Zoo is the ultimate wildlife adventure.