Houston Zoo offers live camera on giant river otter

Why usually check that inbox or doomscroll on social media when you can sit back, relax and watch a pair of river otters paddle by via a live stream? Exactly.

The Houston Zoo offers a number of on-site animal live streams allowing people at home to enjoy a bit of virtual sightseeing while surfing the interwebs, including a peek inside the living quarters of giant river otters.

The camera angle captures part of the exhibit’s waterway and the connected land area. The animals can be seen swimming, lounging in the stream alone or with other otters and generally walking around although the animals are often not visible on the live viewing area or can be seen striding out of the scene in the background.

Weighing over 50 pounds and measuring around five feet long, giant river otters are considered the largest freshwater otters on the planet, according to a Houston Zoo Animals Articlewhich explains that the range of their habitat includes the Amazon Basin through Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Venezuela, and Peru.

Giant river otters are the largest members of the Mustelid family, according to a Wildlife Conservation Society post on animals, a family that also includes otters, weasels and ferrets, although the giant river otters are “by far the noisiest member of the group”.

The animals are described as “highly social”, live in families of three to 10 members and compete with “the black caiman for the title of top predator of the Amazon lakes”, explains the WCS post, noting that the diet of the animal is mainly fish.

Semi-aquatic animals can live for up to a decade and can produce 10 young each gestation period with the “sub-adults” within each family group, acting “as ‘older siblings’ and are tasked with caring for the new batch of puppies,” the post read.

Listed as an endangered species, the main threats to giant river otters include habitat degradation, contamination of rivers from mining and agriculture, overharvesting of fish and people hunting the animal for their skins, according to WCS.

The zoo boasts a number of “Zoo Cams”, including streams showing the giraffe feeding platform and elephant courtship, as well as flamingo and rhino cams. The Giant River Otter Exhibit is located in the South American Pantanal portion of the Houston Zoo. The zoo otters live stream is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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