SINGAPORE: Three otters were spotted in the heart of Singapore's Central Business District on Sunday (Oct 28), swimming in a water feature outside office building One George Street in the Raffles Place area.
There have been more sightings of otters in recent years, as the animals venture beyond parks and canals.
According to Facebook user Nel Jason Sanson, who shared a video of the CBD otters, two of the animals were seen in a water feature at about 6pm before another jumped in from the bushes.
They appeared to tussle in the water before one jumped out, ran onto the streets and rejoined the pair shortly after. The three otters were later seen running into the bushes to hide from a crowd which had gathered.
Otter enthusiast and admin of interest group Ottercity, Marjorie Chong, said that the three otters live along a nearby stretch of the Singapore River. They have been spotted in different locations such as Robertson Quay.
Earlier on Sunday at about 5pm, they were seen upriver and likely swam towards Boat Quay before heading up on land towards Pickering Street and One George Street, she added.
On Saturday, the same three were seen lazing along the Singapore River, according to Ms Chong.
After watching the video by Mr Sanson, she said they were probably trying to find fish in the water feature.
"When one is lagging behind, the other two will wait for it," Ms Chong told Channel NewsAsia. "Otters are very sociable animals and will often groom each other and hug one another and play-fight."
When asked why they were seen so far into the city, she said: "My guess is, they managed to wander around because it was a quiet Sunday evening with less traffic and less people.
"Otters are equally comfortable in water and on land. They are curious and like to explore, and usually have a good sense of direction - if they are not distracted."
It is a characteristic that was also highlighted by National University of Singapore senior lecturer N Sivasothi, who studies otter behaviour.
"Otters are always exploring, so even when resident to an area, they will search nearby areas for new hunting grounds, grounds to dry off in and places to rest or sleep in. Never know when that will come in handy - a family may increase in number or they may be driven out of an area by a competitor," he said.
"The well-explored otter is a resilient one."
READ: Can Singapore’s growing otter population continue to thrive in an urban landscape?
For people who may come across otters in the city, Ms Chong has the following advice:
- Stay a safe distance away
- Avoid running after or chasing them, as this could cause them to become disoriented and they may end up further inland or crossing roads to get away
- Call the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) rescue hotline at +65 97837782
Ottercity, a Facebook group set up by otter enthusiasts, documents wild otters in Singapore. Families of otters have been spotted at Bishan Park, Pasir Ris Park and Marina Reservoir.