The Texas State Aquarium is saddened to report the passing one of our North American river otters, Dusty. Dusty arrived at TSA in June of 1996 as a pup and enjoyed a long life at the Aquarium. She was 17 years old at the time of her passing, well past the median life expectancy (MLE) for her species, which is a testament to the exceptional care she received throughout her life here at the Aquarium.
A preliminary pathology report from blood samples collected on Wednesday indicated that Dusty had leukemia. A necropsy has been performed, and the Aquarium is awaiting the pathology report to confirm the diagnosis.
The MLE for North American river otters in professional care is 12.3 years. According to National Geographic, the life expectancy for a river otter in its natural habitat is between eight and nine years. Both veterinary attention and the lack of predators are primary reasons for the longer life expectancy when in professional care.
Dusty was one of many geriatric animals living at the Aquarium. With advances in veterinary medicine, nutrition, and husbandry techniques, animals are living longer in zoos and aquariums around the nation. As a result, managers and care takers develop new ways to address the unique needs of geriatric animals.
The Texas State Aquarium family is saddened by her loss.