From swimming pool shenanigans to hospital visits, the escapades of Singapore's otter families have provided much amusement and entertainment. But things aren't always rainbows and butterflies in the animal kingdom.
In a heartbreaking Facebook post, otter interest group Ottercity announced on Sunday afternoon (Jan 10) that they had euthanised an otter pup abandoned by her family, adding that they had exhausted "all possible options".
The pup, named Eve, was found on Dec 31, Ottercity said. She was born prematurely and hadn't even opened her eyes when rescuers found her.
"She was left in the open while the family went away, and wasn't picked up when they returned," Ottercity recounted, adding that volunteers attempted to reintroduce her to her family, but the adults showed disinterest.
In an effort to save the pup, Ottercity reached out to several animal welfare groups, including the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) and Otter Working Group (OWG), as well as representatives from the National Parks Board and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Unfortunately, the "greatest reunion story in 2021" that Ottercity was hoping for did not materialise.
"Formal meetings were held with the extended community to discuss, debate and deliberate — to exhaust all possible options, given what we know and what we have today," they wrote. "Regrettably, Eve was euthanised on Thursday afternoon (Jan 7)."
Not only was the group "inexperienced and not ready", but Singapore also lacks large rehabilitation facilities suitable for semi-aquatic animals, Ottercity explained.
Lamenting that "not all rescue has a happy ending [sic]", the group concluded its post with an apology to Eve.
"Emotionally, it was an outcome none wishes to see, but rationally we accept our current limitations."
This isn't the first time that volunteers have mounted rescue efforts in aid of vulnerable pups separated from their families.
In 2018, an otter was reunited with its family in a five-day operation involving over 30 personnel from multiple interest groups, including Ottercity, OWG and OtterWatch, as well as agencies such as the Public Utilities Board.
The otter, estimated to be five to six months old at the time, had been found injured.
In 2017, a two-and-a-half-month-old pup was able to rejoin its family thanks to the quick action of about 15 otter watchers, who had noticed it being left behind by its family at Kallang Basin.
Pups of that age may be targeted by predators such as snakes when they are apart from their family, explained N. Sivasothi, a senior lecturer in National University of Singapore's biological science department.
They may also face other dangers such as traffic and are not able to hunt for food on their own.