- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Excited children and their parents spent Monday celebrating the 10th birthday of Bubbles and Squeak, two otters housed at the Calvert Marine Museum.
“This is the first one,” said CMM exhibit interpreter Mindy Quinn of the birthday party. “One of the equine [staff] came to me and said, ‘Hey, did you know it’s the otters’ 10th birthday?’ And I said, ‘We have to throw them a party.’ This is what we came up with.”
The museum was decorated with balloons and streamers for the birthday celebration. Before the museum opened at 10 a.m., Quinn said, about 12 children were given a behind-the-scenes tour by CMM’s curator of estuarine biology Dave Moyer.
“They got behind the scenes. They got to see the food prep area, and they got to go outside and see the otters get a snack,” Quinn said.
Although he was not present during the otter feeding Monday morning, 9-year-old Tommy Zavrel of Great Falls, Va., said once, when he and his sister, Lily, visited Bubbles and Squeak they “got to wear big green gloves and got to feed” fish and carrots to the otters.
Tommy said he knows Bubbles and Squeak “really well,” as they’ve visited the otters “more than 20 times.” He said whenever he visits the otters, he gets close to the glass of their exhibit, and “they do tricks.”
“I like how they come over and put their hands on the glass,” 6-year-old Lily said.
Amy Zavrel, Tommy and Lily’s mother, said she made sure they visited Calvert County this past weekend for the birthday party. She said the first thing Lily did Monday morning when she woke up was sing “Happy Birthday” to the otters.
As part of the birthday celebration, different crafts were available to children all day long, Quinn said. Near the otter exhibit, children could participate in an otter mask craft and make their own otter masks.
Quinn said, “Otters tend to get into trouble if they’re not entertained,” so children also had the opportunity to make paper mache eggs.
“We’ll make them today. Another day we’ll decorate them, and at Easter time we’ll have a bunch of Easter eggs for the otters to go and hunt for, like an Easter egg hunt,” she said.
The museum also auctioned off “original otter art” during the birthday celebration, Quinn said.
“They actually made the paintings,” she said of the otters. “We give them paint, and they just kind of go at it.”
As part of the otter enrichment program, Quinn said the otters walk through paint and then walk across paper, leaving behind trails of footprints and tail drags. The museum also raffled off several paintings as well as a behind-the-scenes tour for four people.
Throughout the day, a cart carrying otter pelts was out and available for people to touch. Quinn said the pelts were of a sea otter and a river otter so people could learn the difference between the two.
Bubbles and Squeak probably did not know it was their birthday, Quinn said, but the museum still had a “special treat” for them — a “cake” made from different things otters like to eat. One section of the cake was made of fish with fish-paste icing, Quinn said, and another section was made of frozen grapes.
The children were given their own cake, Quinn said, and the Bubbles and Squeak mascot had a dance party and taught people how to do the “swim dance.”
Otters under human care typically live up to 20 years, Quinn said. She said Bubbles and Squeak are “doing very well” and “hopefully we’ll hit that 20 mark.”