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Shedd euthanizes only river otter, Rio

Shedd Aquarium world-class leader animal care conservatiis deeply saddened announce thanimal care veterinary staff today made difficult decisieuthanize Rio charming

Shedd Aquarium, a world-class leader in animal care and conservation, is deeply saddened to announce that animal care and veterinary staff today made the difficult decision to euthanize Rio, the charming resident North American river otter of the At Home on the Great Lakes gallery, due to progressively deteriorating health and quality of life associated with advanced age. At 21 years old, Rio exceeded the known median life expectancy of river otters by nearly a decade – typically about 12 years for the species. In spite of her age, she still enjoyed energetically swimming around her exhibit and playing with her toys, especially those stuffed with food. “It’s been a remarkable experience watching Rio inspire our guests throughout her years at the aquarium. As she grew older, Rio became a testament to the zoological community’s emerging expertise in geriatric animal care and welfare,” said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training. “With her playful personality, Rio was a beloved ambassador for her species.”

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Updated: December 1, 2013 8:21AM



In her prime, Rio the river otter liked to bound out of her favorite little cave and scamper along the rock work at Shedd Aquarium — charming countless visitors.

On Tuesday, the aquarium announced that Rio — arguably among the world’s cutest critters — had to be euthanized.

“Rio has lived a long, wonderful life,” said Shedd spokeswoman Andrea Rodgers.

Rio, Shedd’s only river otter, was 21 years old — a true geriatric. In the wild, river otters typically don’t live longer than about 12 years, Rodgers said.

Like any geriatric, Rio had begun to slow down and show signs of arthritis, Rodgers said.

Staff could tell “she was feeling very poorly.”

Rio, the Spanish word for river, came to the Shedd in 1992 from the Little Rock, Ark., zoo.

Widespread trapping, loss of habitat and pollution pushed the river otter close to extinction in Illinois. The species was added to the state’s endangered species list in 1989. Conservation efforts have since led to the river otter’s comeback and they can now be found in every county in the state.

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