GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — While otters can be seen at the Toledo Zoo, they're not as common out in nature. But, a lucky parkgoer at Providence Metropark spotted two of the furry critters in early January.
Her video has gained a lot of attention online, reaching over 100,000 views. Claire Wallace, a northwest Ohio teacher and photographer, was not expecting the video to gain so much traction, nor was she expecting to see the otters at the Grand Rapids park.
"We were taking a walk and all of a sudden there were two otters there and it was pretty awesome," Wallace said.
She was at the park looking for birds when she came across the river otters. She couldn't contain her excitement, so she captured the rare moment.
"I was actually a little nervous for so many people to see my reaction in the video," Wallace said. "I'm like a child, I'm so excited."
One of those who came across the video online was Scott Carpenter, the director of public relations for MetroParks Toledo, who shared it and helped further its reach on the internet.
"You don't see them very often, so it was very fun to see people's reactions because you don't really know that they're here," Carpenter said.
Wallace said it made her feel better knowing her childlike excitement was felt by others as well.
Carpenter, however, has yet to see a river otter at the parks and felt a little bit jealous.
"I've been trying to see river otters for many years along our rivers and lakeshore, and I never see them," he said.
Carpenter said the otters have been making more appearances in the last 30 years, part of a bigger picture thanks to the conservation of the nationally recognized metroparks in Toledo.
This kind of wildlife wouldn't have the environment they need if the natural habitat wasn't being preserved, he said.
Carpenter said he cannot share the exact locations of the otters to protect against crowds on the trails. So, like Wallace, your best bet is to be in the right place at the right time. But more importantly, the habitats and wildlife need to be treated with care and respect.
"It's amazing to enjoy them, but it's also good to remember they are living beings and we don't want to upset them," Wallace said.