Animal Spotlight:
River Otters
We are featuring the North American river otter in this issue of our newsletter because it received the most votes at the donation station in the Conservation & Education Center. Stop by the Center on your next visit to Union Station and learn how you can make a positive impact on your local waterways and also vote for your favorite featured animal too!

North American river otters are mammals found near water across the United States and Canada. They have thick, protective fur to keep them warm. River otters can grow to be 3-4 feet long and their tails usually count for one-third of their body length! Their long, strong tails are used to help propel them through the water, along with their webbed feet. Otters are exceptional swimmers and can hold their breath under water for up to 8 minutes!

The St. Louis Aquarium has three river otters in their care: Thatcher, Sawyer, and Finn. They turned one on December 30, 2019 and love to swim and play with each other. Each of the three siblings have their own unique personalities though. Finn, the only boy, always wants to play and to know what his sisters are up to. Thatcher is very independent and isn't afraid to let her siblings know when she is not in the mood to play. Sawyer frequently acts as the peacemaker between Thatcher and Finn, and also gets distracted easily.

According to Kat Echevarria, Animal Care Manager, our otters have two favorite places; their pool and their straw bed. "They play hard and crash hard," she says. The animal trainers provide enrichment for them by adding new, interesting things into their habitat, as well as moving their "furniture" around. Our animal care staff also give the otters fun treats like fish "cakes" (fish in various shapes and colors of ice gelatin). Otters are very curious animals, so they also enjoy interacting with their trainers and learning new things.

While river otters are not currently considered an endangered species, their populations have been steadily declining due to habitat loss, water pollution, and trapping. A century ago, river otters were almost eliminated in Missouri due to unregulated trapping for their fur, but thanks to restoration efforts and trapping restrictions, otters can still be found across the state and across the country.

Animal Curator Aaron Sprowl notes that, "Otters are actually really great animals; they're kind of indicative of the health of Missouri rivers and streams. When there are a lot of otters, the water tends to be really good for all wildlife." Like humans, otters are sensitive to water pollution, and a lack of otters in a certain area could
be a sign of poor water quality and other issues that effect the local ecosystem.

You can help river otters in the wild by not purchasing products made from animal fur, clean up after yourself to keep waterways clean, and reducing the chemicals you use around your home ( i.e. weed killer, insecticides, ice melt) that run off into waterways. For more information about river otters and ways you can help protect them, please visit www.riverotterecology.org/how-can-we-help-otters/.


Visitors to the Conservation & Education Center can vote on their favorite animal with a $5 donation at the donation station. The winning animal is featured in the next newsletter.
Events and How to Get Involved:
Volunteer Fair
February 10 th , 10am-3pm
Come learn about the different volunteer opportunities available with the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation! Sign up for one of our time slots to hear a brief presentation on volunteering, and then talk one-on-one with a member of the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation staff to see if this is the right fit for you!


presented by

EnviroScape Teacher Training
February 19 th , 4:30pm-7pm
Through our partnership with MSD Project Clear and EarthWays Center, we invite teachers to join us for a training on the popular EnviroScope watershed models.

The EnviroScape Watershed model is a hands-on, interactive demonstration of the sources and effects of water pollution. This model allows teachers to easily demonstrate how storm water runoff carries pollutants through the watershed to a pond, lake, river, bay,
or ocean – and the best management practices to prevent this type of
pollution from occurring. The overall watershed/stormwater concept is
effectively communicated to all ages.

This workshop will take place at the new
St. Louis Aquarium Foundation’s Conservation & Education Center. Complimentary parking will be provided. For more information
and to register, visit www.msdenviroscapetraining2020.eventbrite.com .
Confluence Trash Bash
March 21 st , 8am-12pm
Join the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation at
the 2020 Confluence Trash Bash! We'll be there with team members and volunteers
to help clean up the creeks and streams
near the confluence of the Mississippi
and Missouri Rivers.
World of Water
Symphony Concert
April 19 th , 3pm
at Powell Hall
Designed for children ages 5-12, the
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Family Concerts include a 45-minute Sunday afternoon concert that builds family memories to last a lifetime.  Join the Aquarium Foundation on April 19 th as the Symphony dives into musical works for the entire family, all inspired by water. Arrive early to visit the Aquarium Foundation's booth, take a pic with our shark mascot, and explore the Symphony's Instrument Playground for a hands-on experience learning about all the different instruments in the orchestra. For more information and tickets, please visit https://shop.slso.org/6320
Earth Day Festival
April 25 & 26
in Forest Park
Come visit our booth at this year's Earth Day Festival in Forest Park! Enjoy food, music, and activities while learning more about environmentally-friendly practices, sustainable products and services, and local businesses and organizations dedicated to protecting the Earth.
Give STL Day
Thursday, May 7
Thanks to many generous donors, we were able to raise over $10,000 through Give STL Day 2019. Now that the Aquarium and Conservation & Education Center are open, we would love to be able to raise even more this year to be able to provide free Aquarium field trips, education classes, and transportation to underserved schools.
Making Waves
Inaugural Gala of the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation
Saturday, September 26, 2020
at St. Louis Union Station
Help us make waves for education, access and water conservation through the mission of the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation at our inaugural gala. Mark your calendar for an event you won't want to miss! Check out our website for updates: www.stlaquariumfoundation.org/events
St. Louis Aquarium Foundation | 314.923.3926 | info@stlaquariumfoundation.org