The wait is over. The new river otter exhibit at Albuquerque’s aquarium is now open. The two otters, Chaos and Mayhem, finally have a permanent home in their native lands.
“We’ve been waiting for them forever,” said Leticia Olguin. “What, about six months or so? We’ve been waiting for them and they’re awesome!”
The two female otters, around 3 years old, are not siblings but have bonded together, both coming from Louisiana after being labeled nuisance otters.
“Mayhem and Chaos, they earned their names. They were basically getting into trouble raiding shrimp farms,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Which of course the shrimp farmers did not like.”
The city saved the duo from euthanization, and Tuesday cut the ribbon on their new home.
Construction on the exhibit and its 25,000 gallon pool began in April 2017.
The $2.7 million exhibit includes a water slide for the otters, along with interactive games for kids, and indoor and outdoor viewing areas.
“It was funny because one of them, like, dove underwater and it was fun to watch them,” said Lilly Steele.
While Mayhem was quite the ham strutting her stuff for the crowds, Chaos stayed behind scenes.
“Chaos is more shy,” Steele said.
“They’ve been spotted in the water together and playing together,” said trainer Ashley Baca. “So Chaos is coming out of her shell slowly and we’ll see how they do.”
River otters were native to New Mexico until the 1950s when pollution destroyed their habitats. Game and Fish have reintroduced 33 otters into the upper Rio Grande since 2008.
The otter exhibit was finished slightly behind schedule. However, it’s a much different story for the zoo’s penguin exhibit, which was supposed to be done a few months ago. That won’t open until December at the earliest.