Mississippi River Museum Otter Dies

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- One of the oldest North American River Otters registered in an AZA-accredited facility has died.

Bart was about 18 years old and was housed at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium until he died on April 22.

The museum said he lived a long life for his species even though he has several health concerns, including a neurological disorder that caused him to have periods of seizures and tremors.

Bart was brought to the Museum & Aquarium in 2004 by the Iowa DNR.

"Bart was a great ambassador for his species and he was loved not only by the staff who took care of him but also all of the Museum & Aquarium visitors who were able to view and interact with him during his time at our facility,” said Andy Allison, Director of Living Collections. “His presence helped connect visitors to the greater river otter conservation story and history of the species in Iowa.”

Before Bart passed away, staff noticed his appetite and activity declining. The Museum & Aquarium's veterinarian found Bart had an inoperable tumor. Because he was older and other chronic health issues, the decision was made to humanely euthanize him.

Staff said Bart was gentle and interactive when the mother otter, Mama, had three pups. Mama, who has lived with Bart since 2004, will be monitored and staff will work with the North American River Otter species survival plan coordinator to determine if there is a suitable new companion for her.

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