MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – In the early morning hours on Sunday, winds and rain pummeled Tampa Bay as tornadoes ripped through the area. Ed Straight, president of Wildlife Inc., says in the midst of the storm, a mother otter and her two babies were underneath a house in Eastern Manatee County.
Straight said, “This mother otter realized that where she had her nest under this house, that it was gonna flood, because she started moving her babies into the wooded area across the street.”
Straight said the mother scooped one of the otters into her mouth and ran off to safety. Straight said the mother was likely going to take the baby otter to a safe location in the woods and then return for her other baby underneath the house.
Unfortunately, she didn’t make it. The mother otter was hit by a car and killed.
A neighbor rescued one of the pups and brought it to Wildlife, Inc. The non-profit rescues orphaned animals and nurses them back to health. Straight said it was important to quickly get the otter into an incubator and give it antibiotics.
“They’re very susceptible to getting pneumonia,” said Straight.
But the locals told Wildlife, Inc. that they had seen this mother otter before and they were sure that she had another baby. Time was of the essence. So a team from Wildlife, Inc. quickly rushed to the area. Damen Hurd with Wildlife, Inc. crawled underneath the house where the mother otter had lived. He spent 20 minutes in the cold, wet mud, dodging spider webs as he looked for a tiny ball of fur.
Straight said, “His odds he knew of finding that baby underneath there were small, but when he seen that little black ball of fur, he knew he had found what he was looking for.”
Hurd recorded it all on his GoPro. He had successfully found the scared, frightened orphan otter. They quickly rushed it to Wildlife, Inc. to treat it.
Sadly, that rescued otter died two days later.
“It’s always sad when we lose any type of wildlife but we know we did our best,” said Straight.
But the first rescued otter is progressing nicely. She spends her days resting inside an incubator. The team at Wildlife, Inc. gives her antibiotics and feeds her every two hours.
They plan to keep her for the next few months, help her learn how to swim, and then release her into the wild. Straight admitted it’s sad that this otter’s family is gone, but they’ll make sure she grows up healthy and strong.
“At least, there’s always a bright spot and that is we were able to save one,” said Straight.