Wayward river otter gorges on koi fish at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden
It’s a mystery how a furry river otter found its way to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, but it is clear why it’s chosen to stay: food.
The animal has been feasting on the garden’s prized fish. Staff said at least five adult koi have become its meal.
“It is very concerning because we don’t have a lot of koi in the garden and we treat them like part of the team. It is sad to see some of them getting killed,” said Debbie Cheung, marketing and communications manager.
A photo on social media shows an otter in Chinatown Friday night. The next day, visitors at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen noticed the otter and it hasn’t left since.
Cheung said there were 14 koi and they’ve been working to grow the population, but now the unwanted visitor disrupted those plans.
It’s also caused a ripple effect. The staff has seen another predator take interest in the carp.
“The koi is stressed so they’re swimming around, so it is more opportunity for a heron, for example, to come and actually catch the smaller koi,” Cheung explained.
The staff has noticed a heron trying to snack on the young fish for at least an hour.
“It’s actually very heartbreaking because we’re hoping the koi can spawn and that it can grow naturally, but now we have to look into how we can replenish the koi population,” she explained.
Spotted an #otter eating some koi in @vangarden #ChinatownYVR after visiting the #EastsideCultureCrawl! @ParkBoard @CityofVancouver @BCWildlife @vanaqua can anyone help relocate this little guy back to the wild? pic.twitter.com/DQcYjrqrMm— VanDesignBureau (@VanDesignBureau) November 19, 2018
The Vancouver Park Board is assisting Dr. Sun Yat-Sen with relocating the animal, but it is anticipated to be challenging.
“They’re very smart and they’re crafty, so it won’t be easy. This is new for us; we haven’t done it at Sun Yat-Sen,” parks director Howard Normann said.
The park board will visit the garden on Tuesday to determine the next steps, whether it is live trapping and relocating the otter or taking the carp into isolation.
Normann said neither plans will be easy to execute.
“It’s a big pond. It’s a winding pond and there are lots of trees, rocks and boulders, and hiding spots. Of course, it’s not an easy catch,” he said.
Cheung is asking guests not to feed the otter if they see it in the garden. An investigation has been launched to determine how the otter got there in the first place.