The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is mourning the loss of Molly, the North American river otter that has delighted guests at the aquarium for nearly 18 years.
Molly was under 24-hour supervision after experiencing a seizure in the early morning hours of July 29th. When she did not regain consciousness over the following days, the aquarium and veterinary staff made the determination to euthanize Molly rather than have her experience any suffering, the aquarium said in a news release.
“Like all of the animals in our care, quality of life is our highest priority,” said Husbandry Curator Kristen Clark. “We all are so devastated to lose Molly, but this was the most humane route to prevent any further discomfort or health problems on her part.”
In 2017, Molly first experienced a similar seizure. Following a CT scan, veterinarians determined that she had an unidentifiable mass in her brain. Surgery was deemed too high-risk, and she remained under close observation. She quickly recovered from that incident, displaying normal energy and behavior of an otter her age.
In the interest of her comfort, she was separated from the younger and more energetic males Banks and Finn. Under the constant care and observation by her caretaker, she continued to behave normally, including swimming, eating and participating in enrichment activities up until this latest incident.
Molly came to the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island from the Florida Aquarium in 2001 at less than 1-year-old. Two weeks later, she was introduced to the public to a great response.
Her then-caretaker described her as highly energetic and playful – a real “handful.”
Over nearly two decades, she became a well-loved ambassador of her species, allowing the aquarium to share stories benefitting the conservation and preservation of otters and their habitats. Many guests returned year after year to visit her.
At 18, Molly was considered an elderly otter – the life expectancy of otters under care is around 18-20 years. In the wild, otters live to be nine or 10 years old.
“She definitely lived a full life,” Clark said.
Caretakers, aquarium staff and volunteers alike form special bonds with the animals under the aquarium’s care, as do many guests. As the resident matriarch, Molly held a special place at the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island and she will be missed by many, said North Carolina Aquariums Director Maylon White.
“We are so grateful for Molly’s time with us, and our thoughts are with her caretakers who were constantly devoted to her health and well-being,” White said.