Bon voyage, Charlie!

Clearwater, Florida (August 25, 2004) . . . . Charlie, the North American River Otter, rescued by Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) last March will have a new home next week. "Charlie is moving to Brookfield Zoo in the Chicago area," Glenn Harman, Director of Animal Programs, announced today. "Before he goes we want people to have a chance to bid him farewell."

Charlie, who has not been on public display, will be in the Otter Nursery on Friday, August 27, from 11 a.m. to 12 Noon. The public is invited to say goodbye as Charlie is off to Brookfield Zoo where he will participate in the river otter Species Survival Plan.

Developed through the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) is a cooperative effort to manage populations and establish conservation programs for selected species. The SSPs provide for the careful breeding management of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Since Charlie is unable to be released, his participation in the SSP will help sustain the species without necessitating the capture of wild river otters.

Most SSP species are endangered or threatened in the wild. Currently there are 116 species covered by SSPs. Additionally, SSPs include research, public education and reintroduction of populations to natural environments, all activities aligned with the CMA mission of animal care, conservation and public education.

When rescued by CMA from a busy Palm Harbor, Florida street, Charlie was a three-pound orphan, severely dehydrated and thin, when found. Today he is a robust, young adult otter anxious to live with fellow otters. "He passed his physical examination with flying colors," said Dr. Janine Cianciolo, staff veterinarian for CMA. "Charlie is a great otter for the Species Survival Plan, he's very healthy and he has loads of charisma."

Charlie will be missed at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. However, his successful rescue and rehabilitation is rewarding for the staff and volunteers who have cared for him. CMA has provided rehabilitative care for river otters since 1995. In that time, three otters were rehabilitated and successfully released to the wild.
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