By SARA RUBERG
Two river otters that were first captured by crayfish farmers in Louisiana have found a home at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
Farmers in Louisiana often catch otters as nuisance pests and kill them. Luckily for the duo, an organization in Dayton, Ohio worked with trappers to catch these two alive and held them until The Wild Center heard of their plight. Leah Valerio, The Wild Center’s curator, travelled to Ohio to bring the pair back to Tupper lake.
The two North American river otters now live at Otter Falls, an indoor tank that is visible to the public. Both animals are male and are thought to be 2 or 3 years old. Staff at the museum says they are getting along really well.
“Visitors say that (the otters are) one of the reasons they come back to visit us over and over again,” Valerio said. “They know their names, they know their stories, they know their ages… They really fall in love with the otters and that’s great because it inspires a lot of people to care about nature and wildlife.”
The story of the otters is important, especially to the Akwesasne Boys and Girls Club who chose their names. Over the weekend, the children revealed their names would be Rohsno:re (low-SNOW-lay) meaning “He’s fast” and Tawi:ne (da-WEE-nay) meaning “Otter” in the Mohawk language. Two brothers– 7-year-old Tehanonsakhanion and 5-year-old Tehawenahkhwa Thompson– came up with the names. The brothers attend Akwasasne Freedom School.
The collaboration is part of an ongoing partnership between Native American communities and The Wild Center called the “Ways of Knowing” program. The program has brought The Wild Center art exhibitions, cultural projects and educational workshops from the Akwesasne Cultural Center, The Six Nations Indian Museum and the Native North American Travelling College.
Now, the Akwesasne children will be leaving their mark on the museum in Tupper Lake.
“The partnership will really live on as long as these otters are here,” said Nick Gunn, the Wild Center’s marketing manager.
The otters were named in time for the Ways of Knowing celebration that took place July 6. Rohsno:re and Tawi:ne are now on regular display for the public through the Wild Center’s daily otter program.