Finding yourself alone in the world is tough, no matter who you are. But even though this little otter lost his mom early on in life, he soon made some unbreakable bonds that he would never have had a chance to experience with his biological family.
This clawless otter, named Moses, was just a few weeks old when he was found abandoned at the side of a South African river. A passing police officer did spott the tiny pup, but wisely left the little animal alone in case the momma otter returned.
Only the young otter was still alone when the officer passed by again three days later, so the cop wrapped up the little fuzzball and brought him to Bela Bela’s Loebies Guest Farm and Predator Park. The park’s owner, Annel Snyman, welcomed the pup with open arms and gave him his Biblical moniker.
“Moses was very small; he was about [14 ounces] when they brought him to me, so he was as big as my hand,” Snyman recalled to Barcroft TV. He was so tiny, in fact, that she had problems finding the proper food for him. Therefore, she had to use alternative methods.
“I struggled to get the formulas to raise him, so it was bottle-feeding every three hours,” Moses’ human mommy said. Although the otter flourished under Snyman’s love and care, he was lacking one skill essential to his species that she didn’t even realize he was missing.
“I thought otters can swim – it’s instinct – and I took him to the water to the dam to see if he could swim, and I put him in the water and Moses almost drowned,” she recounted. She soon learned that otters, in fact, get taught how to swim in the wild. So Snyman had some work to do.
Of course, Moses had a lot of learning to do. His lessons, therefore, began under supervision in a shallow swimming pool. Snyman took the little otter to his training grounds every four hours to get him used to the water and gradually introduced him to deeper waters as his confidence grew.
Once he graduated from the pool, Moses was ready for the next stage of his training: exploring the waters near the dam. Initially, Snyman only brought him to the shallows, but soon Moses was diving into the deeper waters around the dam on his own. Of course, Snyman was a proud momma!
“The first time he had a good dive… I was super-excited,” Snyman said. These days, Moses is a strong swimmer, but he also picked up some other skills along the way. For instance, he’s great at making friends – and he has a very unusual social group to prove it.
When Moses arrived at her park, Snyman was also looking after another batch of young animals who needed her help. Since the young group were all raised together, they became a family pack of sorts – one that just so happened to include a lioness, hyenas and Moses the otter.
“Moses doesn’t see himself as an otter; he thinks he’s part of the family of the hyenas and the lions,” Snyman explained. In fact, the large predators and Moses grew up play-fighting – and they still rumble around even today.
So eclectic friends are normal for the little otter. “Moses was raised with a spotted hyena and a lion in the house with the meerkats,” Snyman said.
Some nights, Snyman even allows Moses to curl up in her bed. But she stresses the point that he isn’t a pet. “I will tell people: don’t get an otter as a pet. Don’t think it’s a pet, it can bite you – it’s a wild animal,” she said.
“You don’t ever know what’s going to be next, so he can attack. It’s a challenge to raise an otter,” she concluded. And it is especially challenging to raise one around a lion. Funnily enough, though, Moses even keeps Snyman company as she routinely tours the park.
And his daily rounds with his human mommy through the park give the otter a chance to visit all of his other friends. Naturally, they need to start early in the day – that means Moses’ day begins around 7:00 a.m.
Still, perhaps the favorite stop of the day for Moses is visiting the big cats. Surprisingly, Moses doesn’t shy away from any of them, even the ones he didn’t spend time growing up with. What’s more shocking, though, is that they all seem to accept him as one of their own as well.
Even better, Moses gets some time each day to say hello to his lioness “sister” Robyn, whom he grew up with when they were just a cub and pup. The routine visits are important as Moses is an adventurous soul who always needs to be occupied with something.
Snyman said, “The funny moments with Moses [are] every day. Something new, something different… sleeping in the bed, playing with the hyenas, going to the dam, chasing the emu… Moses is busy.” But although Moses leads a rich, full life at the park, Snyman doesn’t expect he will stay with them much longer.
“He’s not a pet. Moses can walk whenever he wants to, he’s not in any enclosures and roams freely on the farm so we know that when the hormones kick in Moses will walk off… he will go into the wild himself,” Snyman said.
“The hormones [are] kicking in now, so I think it will be in the next couple of months he will go and explore,” she explained. Of course, like any good mom, she wishes the best for her furbaby’s future. She said, “I hope he will get a mate and he will grow old with a mate… and be happy.”