Skip to main content
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

Spot-necked Otter (Hydrictis maculicollis) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

History in Managed Care

Zoos and Wildlife Parks

  • Fewer than 40 spot-necked otters in institutions in North America as of 2010. (ISIS 2010)
  • The Washington D.C. National Zoological Park first housed North American river otters in 1913; in 1915 they had the first successful North American births.
  • The London Zoo bred Eurasian (or European) river otters in 1836, 1846, and 1856.
  • In 1990 the Toronto Zoo opened their spot-necked otter exhibit.
  • The San Diego Zoo's Ituri Forest provides a naturalistic habitat where other species such as the Allen's Swamp Monkey can interact with these often playful spot-necked Otters.



  • Otters weren't often kept in zoos or aquariums before the 1950s. (Bell 2001)
  • At end of 20th century, only two institutions in North America housed spot-necked otters. (Bell 2001)
  • Minimum habitat requirements originally obstacles to keeping these mammals in managed care (Bell 2001)
    • Access to cool, clean water
    • Plenty of dry land
    • Other otters for companionship
    • Diet

Special care

  • Additional requirements necessary for otters' well being (Benza et al 2009)
    • At least 150 sq m (1,615 sq ft) space recommended for two animals on exhibit, with 50 sq m (538 sq ft) for each additional animal.
    • These otters especially enjoy waterfalls, islands, mud slides
    • To be able to dry their fur, otters need clean mulch, sand, or soil.
    • Access to dens or resting places away from public eye necessary for lowering stress.
    • Safe places to dig, climb, explore, swim, play.
    • Other species with which to interact.

Spot-Necked Otter & Guenon

otter and guenon

A curious spot-necked otter greets a guenon at the San Diego Zoo.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Bell (2001)
Benza et al (2009)
ISIS (2010)

SDZG Library Links