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LA Zoo Sends Giant Otter to Breeding Program in Argentina

LA Zoo Sends Giant Otter to Breeding Program in Argentina

Rosario, an 8-year-old female, is headed to an island in Iberá National Park in northeast Argentina. (Los Angeles Zoo)

City News Service

City News Service

5/30/2024

Updated: 5/30/2024

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The Los Angeles Zoo has become the first zoo in the United States to send a giant otter to a special breeding program in Argentina to reintroduce the species in a region where it has gone extinct, zoo officials announced May 29.
Rosario, an 8-year-old female giant otter from the L.A. Zoo, and her male partner, a giant otter from a European zoo, are the third breeding pair in the program, led by Rewilding Argentina; the government of Corrientes, Argentina; and Argentina’s National Parks Administration.
Their offspring will be candidates for release into the wild in Iberá National Park in northeast Argentina.
“Reintroduction programs, such as Rewilding Argentina’s, are valuable because they can revive extinct populations within historic habitat,’’ said Candace Sclimenti, curator of mammals for the Los Angeles Zoo and giant otter program leader for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“The L.A. Zoo has a long history of providing care, well-being, and husbandry for giant otters, and I am excited that Rosario is helping to ensure the return of her species to Argentina.’’
Two animal care experts from the zoo flew with Rosario to Argentina to ensure she had safe transport. She is currently in a mandatory quarantine period to ensure the health and safety of the other otters in the program.
Once quarantine is complete, she will be transported to a species-specific, pre-release corral on the shores of the Paraná Lagoon, on San Alonso Island in Iberá National Park. The corral occupies a forest area with plant cover and an aquatic area.
Experts say the reintroduction of the giant otter, an apex predator, will help rebalance the ecosystem on both water and land.
Experts say reintroducing the giant otter to the national park will help rebalance the ecosystem. (Los Angeles Zoo)

Experts say reintroducing the giant otter to the national park will help rebalance the ecosystem. (Los Angeles Zoo)

“This project marks many firsts,’’ said Sebastián Di Martino, conservation director for Rewilding Argentina. ”It’s the first time in history that humans are reintroducing the giant otter and the first time an extinct mammal is being reintroduced in Argentina. Further, Rosario, the giant otter, is the first animal from the United States that we are incorporating into a reintroduction project led by Rewilding Argentina.’’
Wednesday’s announcement was made on World Otter Day. Angelenos can view giant otters at the Los Angeles Zoo at the giant otter habitat located at the Rainforest of the Americas.
Rosario is the first animal from the U.S. to be incorporated into a reintroduction project led by Rewilding Argentina, the group's conservation director said. (Los Angeles Zoo)

Rosario is the first animal from the U.S. to be incorporated into a reintroduction project led by Rewilding Argentina, the group's conservation director said. (Los Angeles Zoo)

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