A pair of young otter brothers from Liverpool have taken up new residence in the New Forest.

The North American river otters were getting stressed with city life in Liverpool and are now enjoying their new home at New Forest Wildlife Park near Ashurst.

The otters, which have been named Ottawa and Kodiak, after Canadian and North American rivers, have settled in well since they arrived at the end of November. They are in a separate enclosure from two other North American river otters at NFWP – Jasper and Hudson, who were born at the park ten years ago.

River otters enjoy company. In the wild, males are often found in pairs, and can live in groups of up to 17 at a time. The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land and in the wild makes its home in a holt near the water’s edge.

It can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems and remains active in winter, using ice holes to surface and breathe. North American river otters are not currently on the IUCN red list of threatened species, but their range has been greatly reduced by habitat loss and they are also very sensitive to environmental pollution.

Animal manager Jason Palmer said the brothers have settled in remarkably quickly.

“They have come from the Blue Planet Aquarium near Liverpool, where they could no longer be housed in the enclosure they were in because it had become unsuitable for their needs.

“They are about five years old and are very much a pair – they do everything together. Ottawa and Kodiak have settled in very quickly. Ten minutes after they arrived they were swimming and eating and exploring their large new outdoor enclosure. They looked very pleased with it.

“It’s too early to say what their individual characters are like, but they seem a little cheeky, and I’m sure they are going to be happy at NFWP. All the keepers love them already. We are really happy that we have been able to give them a good stable home.”

New Forest Wildlife Park is involved in international breeding programmes for endangered species and also works with the RSPCA to rescue injured or abandoned animals. It has several species of otters, deer and owls, including the endangered giant otter, as well as lynx, foxes, wallabies, European bison, wolves, wild boar, ferrets, pine marten, polecats, harvest mice and more.