PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – An approximately 8-week-old otter that was found emaciated and severely dehydrated on a golf course near Sunriver is now receiving care at the High Desert Museum. 

The pup was found the week before Memorial Day weekend. 

Initially, wildlife officials hoped the pup’s stay at the High Desert Museum in Bend would be temporary. They tried to find the pup’s mother, but were unsuccessful. Last week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife determined the otter should remain with the museum. 

“We don’t know exactly what happened to this otter, although we do know that without his parents he wouldn’t have survived in the wild,” said museum curator of wildlife Jon Nelson. “This was a unique situation where this otter pup does appear to have been legitimately orphaned.”

An 8-week-old otter that was found orphaned on a golf course near Sunriver in May 2022 is receiving care at the High Desert Museum. Photo by Jon Nelson

Currently, the male pup is being kept with the museum’s other two otters and is not yet visible to the public. The museum hopes to eventually introduce him into the Autzen Otter Exhibit. 

“This is the time of year when people will sometimes find young animals seemingly alone in nature. Often, though, the parent has only temporarily left the young in a secluded spot to feed or rest and plans to return. The best thing to do is leave the animal there and contact the local ODFW office to report it,” Nelson reminded the public. 

The pup weighed 2.4 pounds when he arrived at the museum and has been gaining weight and growing healthier by the day. As of Thursday, his weight was up to 4.6 pounds. 

The High Desert Museum staff are experienced and equipped to offer specialized care to the otter pup. Because there are not any other otter pups of the same age in captivity in Oregon to raise the pup with, the museum said long-term human care is the pup’s best option. 

“Caring for a young otter is intense work, and our wildlife team has done an incredible job juggling bottle feedings around the clock,” said museum Executive Director Dr. Dana Whitelaw. 

This isn’t the first time the museum has cared for an otter this young. In 2017, a 7-week-old pup was found along the Metolius River and was taken to the museum where staff raised it. That otter, a male named Pitch, still lives at the museum’s Autzen Otter Exhibit with Brook, an approximately 10-year-old male. 

The museum cares for more than 130 animals, from otters to fish.