Otter-ly adorable: Orphans pair up for Valentine's Day
Two orphaned baby otters are spending their first Valentine's Day together after they were paired up by our wildlife experts who turned Cupid to help with their rehabilitation.
Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, near Nantwich, in Cheshire, recently admitted a female otter pup, called Eve, and a male, called Juniper, after they were found as orphans and would have been unable to survive in the wild alone at such a young age.
Staff introduced them and now the loving pair are thriving in each other's company and a Valentine's Day date night will involve a tasty meal of fish treats before cuddling up together on their blanket.
Eve, named as she was discovered on Christmas Eve, had been found in a bin near Sunderland Road, in Durham. It is believed someone had spotted her and thought she was dead so placed her body in the bin. Fortunately, another member of the public spotted her and saw signs of life so rushed her to a nearby vets.
The vet treated Eve for hypothermia and then alerted us to her plight.
Inspector Steph Baines took the otter cub to be treated at a wildlife establishment in North Yorkshire and after a few days she was strong enough to be transferred to Stapeley Grange.
Juniper was found alone days later, in the New Year, by a member of the public near Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire. There was no sign of his mum and the otter was clearly frightened so he was taken by the finder to a nearby vet and then was transferred to Stapeley Grange on January 7.
To help the baby otters prepare for their return to the wild, staff housed the pair together and they are loving having fun in each other's company.
Stapeley Grange manager Lee Stewart said:
To help the otters' social well-being we recently paired up Eve and Juniper and they are loving spending time together.
He added: "Enrichment is important for the mental wellbeing of our patients and the otters enjoy playing in a paddock with straw and chasing each other around. They are also very fond of the fish dishes we provide and like snuggling up after a long day of scampering around.
"Whilst most of our adult wildlife admissions are returned to the wild within a matter of weeks many of our orphan animals remain in care for many months.
"Our otter cubs can stay with us for up to 12 months so their care is not only time consuming but expensive. They are released at an age and size when they would naturally move off to find their own territory and way in life."
Eve and Juniper will be released together at a suitable location later in the year.
Lee added: "It is always very exciting to have an otter cub with us as up until the 1980s they were struggling in the wild. They weren't protected by legislation until 1978, at which point numbers were low, but over time their numbers have steadily increased and they have made a comeback in most counties in the UK. As a result we are seeing more being brought into Stapeley Grange. Otter rehabilitation is very specialised and you need to have suitable facilities to care for them."
If a member of the public sees a wild animal in need of help, they can call our emergency line on 0300 1234 999. To help us help more wild animals in need please Join the Rescue and donate to our frontline work. And to help Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre please donate to their JustGiving page.