Otter saga over? Koi to be re-stocked in Chinatown pond
Published Thursday, May 9, 2019 7:37AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 9, 2019 7:25PM PDT
The battle of otter versus koi that started in November of last year finally came to an end Thursday, as the pond at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was finally re-stocked with hundreds of the ornamental fish.
Staff from the garden, the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium were on hand Thursday, for the final phase of the fish release, with aquarium staff gently transferring the fish into the water.
There are now 20 adult koi and around 350 juvenile fish in the pond.
More than 300 juvenile koi and three adults had to be rescued from the pond in November after a wayward river otter wreaked havoc in the garden, feasting on prized koi fish for several weeks as staff tried and failed to trap the animal.
The situation, dubbed #OtterWatch2018 online, also sparked a tongue-in-cheek debate with some people declaring themselves #TeamOtter, and others, #TeamKoi.
For staff at the garden, the situation has been both serious and sad.
Some of the 11 adult fish that were killed were decades old.
But on Thursday, the park board announced a private donor from the Vancouver area and the Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC donated a total of 17 adult koi, to help replenish the stock in the pond.
The surviving fish rescued from the pond had been in the care of the Vancouver Aquarium for the past few months. Staff had to match water conditions to pond conditions while they were in care to make the transition back to the garden easier.
All of the koi survived the transfer.
"It can be very stressful but we take a number of steps to minimize stress at each point," said Lee Newman with the Vancouver Aquarium. "We match temperatures, environmental conditions. In the holding area at the aquarium, we would keep the lighting low because the water in the pond isn't quite as clear as the water in the aquarium."
Despite the loss of the fish, there has been a silver lining; a renewed public interest in the garden.
"I think people have sort of re-invented themselves to come down here and just spend some time," said Howard Normann, the city's director of parks. "I think there will be a lot of people just coming down to see the koi."
"A lot of people wanted to know more about Chinese culture because of the koi, which we really appreciate," said Debbie Cheung with the garden. "We are just happy to see our koi back and have new koi joining us."
As for the rogue otter that caused so many problems, it was never caught.
Park Board staff have "otter-proofed" the garden, sealing off entrances in hopes of ensuring pesky predators can't return.