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Maritime Aquarium In Norwalk Mourns Death Of River Otter

North American river otter Bell.
North American river otter Bell. Photo Credit: Courtesy the Maritime Aquarium

NORWALK, Conn. -- The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk announced that the North American river otter named Bell died on Sunday, April 6.

Bell, who came to the Maritime Aquarium in 1996 when she was 15 months old, was 19, according to a press release. She was named after one of the Norwalk islands. Bell had shown signs of failing health, through loss of appetite and reduced activity, said Animal Curator John Lenzycki. Cause of death is unknown but will be sought through a necropsy, according to the release.

“We’re always saddened by the death of any animal at the Aquarium, but losing an otter – an animal that is so charismatic – is especially like having a star go out,” said Lenzycki. “Caring for these animals every day, our aquarists develop attachments to them, similar to one’s feelings for a family pet.”

Life expectancy of a river otter is about 8 to 10 years in the wild but rises to about 20 for otters that receive attentive husbandry care in zoos and aquariums, representatives said in the release.

The Aquarium’s other river otter, an 11-year-old male named Lew, is in good health, Lenzycki said, adding that "it is too soon to say if, when or how Bell will be replaced," according to the release.