July 3, 2018 – The ABQ BioPark today announced the grand opening of the river otters exhibit with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Aquarium.
“After a lot of planning and work, we’re very excited to open this exhibit,” said Holly Casman, ABQ BioPark Aquarium manager. “Visitors will enjoy watching the playful behavior of our otters Chaos and Mayhem and we think the two will be really happy in their new habitat.”
Construction for the exhibit started in April 2017. The habitat includes a 25,000-gallon pool and water slide for the otters. The exhibit has several viewing angles of the otters; an underwater viewing area, and both indoor and outdoor deck viewing.
River otters Chaos and Mayhem have gone from a life of crime to a life of luxury. Caught stealing shrimp from a Louisiana shrimp farm, the two were labeled “nuisance otters.” The ABQ BioPark came to the rescue, taking the otters in – otherwise, the two would have been euthanized.
These young female otters have been behind the scenes at the ABQ BioPark since May 2016, and have been working closely with their keepers to learn behaviors that will assist with their daily care. Although the two are not related, they share a close bond.
“This new exhibit is a great addition to our already impressive BioPark,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “It’s opening just in time for all of the kids in the city to come and check it out this summer.”
The project cost more than $2.7 million. Major funding came from Bernalillo County Bonds ($2 million), New Mexico BioPark Society members ($300,000), the State of New Mexico ($297,000) and Southwest Capital Bank ($105,000). Project incidentals were funded by the BioPark Gross Receipts Tax ($50,000).
The ABQ BioPark would like to thank the following people and organizations for their support on the river otter exhibit: State of New Mexico, Bernalillo County Commissioners, New Mexico BioPark Society, Southwest Capital Bank, VHGA Architects, TA Cole and Sons, Albuquerque Department of Municipal Development, Thornburg Investment Management and Story Lab.
North American river otters are native to New Mexico’s Gila, upper and middle Rio Grande and Canadian rivers. Pollution, deforestation and unregulated trapping caused their decline and eventual disappearance from New Mexico by the 1950s. Thanks to a reintroduction program supported by federal and state government agencies, local tribes and non-profit conservation organizations, otters have returned to the Rio Grande.