Adorable and playful river otters await visitors in this gallery. This gallery houses four river otters: Shasta, who was saved from the Louisiana fur trade; Ryer, Baxter, and the youngest Tahoe. Found throughout the Bay Area and its river systems, river otters are considered a watershed ambassador as they are an indicator of a healthy water system; meaning if you see a river otter in the wild, you know that waterway is healthy.
Although populations are now stable in California, a century ago, river otter populations were in bad shape due to water pollution, habitat degradation, and fur trade. The hunting and trapping of river otters is no longer allowed in California, and regulations to improve water quality and estuarine habitat have allowed river otter populations to recover. The return of river otters to the San Francisco Bay estuary reminds us of what is possible with ongoing commitments to a healthy watershed.