Nature preserve blames guests throwing human food for otter's death

Nature preserve blames guests throwing human food for otter's death
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A  nature preserve in Tennessee blamed guests throwing human food for the death of an otter.

Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium announced on Facebook last week that Otto the otter fell ill and died after “guests threw food into his enclosure that his body could not tolerate.”

"As a reminder, feeding the animals at Bays Mountain Park is strictly prohibited for exactly this reason. Human food is often intolerable and, in this case, even harmful to our animals," it added. "Please follow all posted park rules, including the signs that say not to feed the animals."

Park staff grew concerned about Otto last Thursday when the 2-year-old otter stopped behaving normally, park manager Rob Cole told the Kingsport Times-News..

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“Otto exhibited initially what we thought were balance issues,” Cole said. “He wasn’t real steady on his feet and his condition hasn’t improved, so it was time to make sure all is well and that Otto would be okay.”

The otter was taken to a local animal hospital the same day and died.

“We’re deeply saddened to announce that Otto the river otter did not make it,” the nature preserve posted on Facebook that night, noting that Otto was “beloved by park staff and guests alike.”

"Even the most well-intentioned efforts to feed them is not a good idea and we’re dealing with the aftereffects now,” Cole told the Times-News.