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Grandfather Mountain Otter Passes Away Sunday


Nov. 19, 2014. Grandfather Mountain is deeply saddened to announce the unexpected death of 9-month-old Emmy, one of the mountain’s newest North American river otters.

Emmy and her brother, Oscar, arrived at Grandfather Mountain from a wildlife rehabilitator in August after being orphaned as pups, and they debuted to the public on Nov. 3.

Habitat keepers said Emmy collapsed after eating around 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Assistant Habitats Curator Emma Schlagal administered CPR, and the staff rushed Emmy to the emergency veterinarian in Boone, but the otter passed away en route to the clinic.

A state diagnostic laboratory near Asheville conducted a necropsy Monday and determined that the otter had sustained a head injury undetected by keepers that contributed to her death.

Emmy had been in ideal health during her time with the rehabilitator and since her arrival at Grandfather Mountain. She showed no signs of problems prior to Sunday, keepers said.

“We’re all stunned by this sudden loss,”Schlagal said. “We know that otters have a high tolerance to pain, which might explain why Emmy showed no symptoms that would have allowed us to diagnose and treat the problem.”

Emmy and Oscar had already become popular residents in the Animal Habitats, where Emmy was the more outgoing of the two.

Habitat keepers hope to reintroduce Oscar to Nova, another young otter who lives in a private habitat at Grandfather Mountain, to provide companionship. Female otters often show aggression toward other females, so the three could not be combined.