If you have tried most of your usual ways to relax, Barn Hill Preserve offers a new one- chilling with Asian small-clawed otters in a pool!
It sounds great, but it is nothing in comparison to the real feeling while enjoying it! Before the experience, participants are required to be older than 16 and to sign a waiver.
The President/CEO of Barn Hill Preserve, John “Gabe” Ligon, explains:
“We are a federally licensed facility in Ethel, Louisiana. Our otter swims are a very limited experience as we don’t provide many. The swim experience includes a tour of the preserve which includes African servals, red kangaroos, and a climate-controlled sloth exhibit.”
The otter swim portion of the tour lasts for about an hour, and it involves time for changing clothes, orientation, and swimming with the otters.
The average time otters swim in the pool is 35 minutes, and for the experience to be positive for them, the number of otter swims is limited.
The Asian small-clawed otter is the smallest otter species in the world, and it lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands in the South and Southeast Asia.
Otters live in extended family groups with only the alpha pair breeding, and the young are raised by offspring from previous years.
Unfortunately, as a result of pollution, habitat loss, and hunting in some areas, the species is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
The preserve does much more than this, as Ligon adds:
“We also provide a home for animals, including a large group of free-flying macaws. These macaws have lifespans of up to 80 years and possess intelligence that compares with human toddlers. We help these birds learn to fly so they can live out their 80 years in the Louisiana countryside.
We hope that seeing these birds fly in a flock, will inspire people to help protect their wild cousins, who are rapidly losing land to human development. Some animals are owner surrenders, while others are planned acquisitions from Federally licensed facilities.”
The otter swims are scheduled once daily, and only a few days per week.
“Guests enter the pool, and the otters are introduced for playtime. If they want to play with enrichment toys on the deck, that’s their choice. Our otters are never forced to do anything, the entire experience is completely positive.”
“A typical day for an Asian otter at the preserve includes waking up to the smell of a fish and shrimp breakfast. Taking a morning swim, grooming one another to dry off, taking a midday nap, chasing insects that fly into the exhibit, and taking more naps. Our otters on exhibit have a large behind the scenes privacy house that allows them to enter any time they aren’t feeling social.”
The otter swim tour costs $153 per person. Yet, if you want to extend your pleasure and spend some time with the sloths or other critters, it would cost you $44 for adults and $38 for children. Children under the age of 2 can be brought free of charge.
Furthermore, Barn Hill Preserve has been very active in the community, providing free educational programs to students at elementary schools, as well as participating in an event hosted by the Dream Day Foundation that provides a fun-filled day of no worries to the patients of St. Jude and their families.
“Last year, some of our staff worked to rescue spectacled flying foxes that had been orphaned due to the record heatwave in Cairns, Australia. While in Australia, we also presented a donation check from fundraising to the Tree Kangaroo Rescue and Conservation Centre for their amazing work with tree kangaroos.”
He pointed out:
“We are very passionate about the work we do here. We challenge the public to get active in what’s going on in the environment, the world around them, so we can ensure that wild places for wildlife are here for generations to come.”
Their animal education programs are completely free for schools and students, and they fund them by allowing students to buy photos of themselves with some of the critters on the preserve. These photographs are 6×4 and are $10 each.
In this way, the preserve allows students with a bit of extra cash to support their mission while still providing free education for those less fortunate.
In case you have decided to get yourself to Ethel, Louisiana the moment you saw the photos note that the preserve’s website advises to avoid wearing fitting jewelry in the pool but to bring the following items with you:
Bathing suit or swim clothes
Towels/change of clothes
Clothing and shoes appropriate for the weather
Waterproof cameras or GoPros
You can also have a picnic in the designated areas.
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