[Picture: Baicun Elementary School]
A wounded otter was flown to Taipei Zoo for emergency surgery after wandering into an elementary school in Kinmen County yesterday, Friday, December 29. Veterinarians suspect the Eurasian otter was attacked by stray dogs.
According to the principal of Baicun Elementary School, at around 10:00 am, teacher Chen Qianhui went to the natural science classroom to fetch some teaching materials for a class, when suddenly she saw an 80 centimeter long, rat-like animal running around in the corridor. When the teacher opened the door of the classroom, the animal immediately ran inside. Teacher Chen closed the door and the school contacted the county government.
The appearance of the animal on campus provided a thrill for teachers and students alike, and a real-life educational experience. Students watched quietly while members of the Kinmen County Wildlife Conservation and Care Association helped to round up the otter. Veterinarians who examined the animal said that the otter was an adult male of about 4 years old. It was underweight at 4.4 kilos, suffered wounds, some of which had festered, and was severely dehydrated.
The otter was placed on a flight to Taipei City, and in the early afternoon underwent 2 hours of surgery at Taipei Zoo. By evening, the otter had woken up, and was eating. Veterinarians said the animal was recovering well and doing better than expected.
Vets are keeping the animal under observation, and if it recovers full health, it will be taken back to Kinmen for release back into the wild.
The Eurasian otter is listed as an endangered species in Taiwan, and only a small population survive, and only on the islands of Kinmen. In 2016, Taipei Zoo created a mascot to tour schools in Kinmen to promote education about conservation of the animals.