Some otterly exciting changes are taking place in the Maryland Wilderness. The North American river otter habitat, home to otters Piper and Hudson, is getting some upgrades. Over the next several months, you’ll notice that the otters will not be viewable, and pathways in the Maryland Wilderness may be closed* at times as improvements are made to the three otter viewing areas. Piper and Hudson will still be receiving expert care, enrichment, and training in behind-the-scenes areas.

Renovation highlights will include:

  • Replacement of all three otter viewing windows
  • An expanded “beach” area and enhanced viewing area nearest to the Marsh Aviary
  • Upgraded ADA accessible walkways
  • Otter training area
*Please Note: Access to the Maryland Wilderness is currently closed. Guests may enjoy the Farmyard by entering from Zoo Central.*

North American river otter.

River Otters Piper and Hudson are currently off-exhibit during this exciting renovation! Other habitats may be impacted at select times throughout the project.

Otter habitat path construction, lined with stone.

This is a view of the otter habitat near the Marsh Aviary in the Maryland Wilderness portion of the Zoo. The existing glass has been removed and the original path demolished. The wooden board seen in the background is where the new viewing glass will be installed. The glass pane will be wider and taller than it once was, spanning to the top of lumber, and the ground level will be raised for both the guest path and the otter’s beach area. This will allow for an expanded viewing area and a closer vantage point to the otters. A keeper platform will also be added alongside the left portion of the habitat viewing area so keepers can chat with guests and give the otters snacks and enrichment!

Otter viewing area.

[Before]

Otter habitat from above, otter pool empty.

This is a view of the habitat from above, looking in the direction of the Marsh Aviary. As you can see the otter’s beach has been expanded more than 10 feet back and some of the rock work has been removed in order to allow for a wider, expanded guest viewing area.

Otter habitat from above, large hole where underwater tunnel was removed.

This is a view of the habitat from above looking down on the middle of the habitat, where the otter tunnel used to be. The tunnel has been removed and will be replaced with new glass so guests can once again enjoy watching the otters swimming underwater!

Otter habitat viewing area with glass removed and pool emptied.

This is a view of the habitat from the bobcat side of the exhibit. If you can remember (see below), there used to be two separate viewing windows with rock in between. Now there will be one large window on this side of the habitat.

Child sitting in front of otter habitat, otter swimming underwater.

[Before]

Otter habitat rock construction with pipe for tunnel.

Last but not least, an otter-sized tunnel is being created through the habitat rock to allow the otters to peek out on the opposite side. There will be mesh installed and the keepers will be able to interact and train the otters in this area for guests to see!

Stay tuned for more updates as the work takes place.