After a two-and-a-half-month closure for renovations, the otter habitat has reopened at Grandfather Mountain. Otters Nottaway and Luna have relocated back into the public eye, allowing their adoring fans to watch their antics from a renovated underwater viewing area. The habitat closed in late February to allow maintenance staff to repair the water-resistant membrane above the underwater viewing area. Water flow under the damaged membrane had caused cracks and crumbling in the cement and mortar of the structure.
Alex Johnson Construction Company and Grandfather Mountain maintenance staff replaced the membrane and the structure's entrance walls and plan to landscape the area in the coming weeks.
While the renovations were underway, the habitat staff introduced the adult otters Nottaway and Luna to the Mountain's youngest otter, Nova, in an off-display habitat called The Plaza.
Nova and Nottaway, an older, male otter, became fast friends, but as keepers feared, the introduction between Luna and Nova was not as smooth. Despite two attempts at combining the two females, dominant Luna would not tolerate Nova's presence. For the time being, Luna and Nottaway will return to the public display, while Nova will remain at The Plaza.
The habitat staff also has resumed the otter enrichment sessions daily at noon and 3 p.m. During these sessions, keepers offer the otters special snacks or toys to keep them amused and intellectually stimulated.
"They're back to their old routine," said Habitats Curator Christie Tipton. "They're happily moved back in."