If zookeepers were in any doubt, now they know: Otters should not be given pants. Authorities at Calgary Zoo have determined that the death of a 12-year-old North American river otter last week was caused by a pair of pants given to him as what they call an "unauthorized enrichment item," the Toronto Star reports. "Logan" drowned after becoming entangled in the pants. The zoo's general curator says enrichment items in the otter pool typically include things like clams, mussels, and things to climb and float on, not items of clothing. She says two employees involved were disciplined but not fired.
A rep for animal protection group Zoocheck says giving pants to an otter was clearly irresponsible. "It smacks of the kinds of things you might see at a roadside zoo, not in a professional operation," she tells the CBC, which lists a few other strange occurrences at the Calgary Zoo:
- In 1999, a polar bear died after being prescribed Prozac to deal with behavioral issues.
- In 2008, 41 out of 43 stingrays in a newly opened interactive exhibit died suddenly, apparently because their water was low on oxygen.
- In 2009, a capybara was crushed to death by a hydraulic door. A similar incident killed a spider monkey.
- Dozens of bats died after flying into piano wire that had been strung up in their exhibit (year not specified).
- In 2012, a great gray owl died after getting loose and flying into a gate while being transported from one area to another.
- In a non-fatal 2009 incident, a gorilla was seen playing with a knife that a zookeeper had accidentally left behind in its enclosure. After photos of the knife-wielding gorilla went viral, the zoo stressed the "gentle, passive" animal wouldn't know to use the knife as a weapon.
(In an animal story with a happier ending, a sloth survived its attempt to cross a highway