SNATCHED FROM her mother, left to travel alone for hundreds of kilometres, and finally rescued on May 17 this year by a team from Zoomarine Rehabilitation Centre, Porto d’Abrigo – was the troubled start to life for Ceres, a baby river otter. Someone had spotted her alone in a rice field, close to Arrábida – Ceres was only about a month old when found, weighing just 860 grams, and measuring only 46 centimetres from nose to tail.
At Zoomarine, she was named Ceres (God of Agriculture in Greek mythology), in order to pay homage to the place where she was found. During the first weeks, she was fed by bottle every four hours and received antibiotics to relieve signs of illness.
Over the first 14 days, the two members of the team responsible for her rescue, stayed with her at night and took care of administering the almost continuous feeds.
Following this strict rehabilitation programme, she started to be given fish (without bones or scales to begin with), and, upon completing this crucial phase, she began to live at the Centro de Reabilitação de Espécies Marinhas, the rehabilitation centre for marine species.
In the middle of June, she had to be taught to swim. Almost two months later, she beganto learning to recognise fish as being her food source, hunting down various specimens with great success!Once more, staff at the unit had to stand in for her mother and teach her basic survival techniques.Ceres underwent treatment to kill off any parasites and then she received a microchip for her permanent identification.
I’m not a baby anymore!
Ceres is no longer a baby, she is now a young river otter, ready to undertake a new mission – to join five other young river otters of the same species (four of which were also rehabilitated by Zoomarine between 2002 and 2004) at the Parque Biológico de Gaia (near Porto).
At a later stage, these otters will be introduced into the wild in the River Febros. This river is practically pollution free and already a popular habitat for the river otters just like Ceres.
Ceres left Zoomarine last Wednesday and was transported in a special vehicle by the two team members who had cared for her since day one.Little Ceres left in a healthy condition, but also left Zoomarine for a better natural environment – proving that it is always worth saving an animal’s life.