St. Louis residents will have a chance to help the St Louis Aquarium at Union Station name its first animal residents.

Three sibling North American River Otters are the first animals to arrive in St Louis and the Aquarium is asking followers and fans to help select their names by visiting the Aquarium’s Facebook page to vote. Two of the otters are female and one is male.

The name choices are:
Splish, Splash & Dash (based on Otter movements and behavior)
Hopper, Zephyr & Harvey (based on train themes)
Sawyer, Thatcher & Finn (based on characters from Mark Twain novels)

Voting will take place for one week, beginning today, on the Aquarium’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/AquariumSTL. The winning names will be announced on Monday, September 23.

The three have come to St Louis from Flamingo Gardens in Florida where they were born into a family of rescued otters. Unable to be released into the wild, the otters needed a new home and will live in the Rivers section of the St. Louis Aquarium. They are currently housed in a non-public area of the World Bird Sanctuary where the St. Louis Aquarium’s animal care manager, Kat Echevarria, works with them to prepare for their eventual move to their two-story habitat at the Union Station site.

A video documenting their journey from Florida to St. Louis, including a plane ride on Southwest Airlines, can be viewed on the Aquarium’s Facebook page.

Echevarria is training the otters to respond to their own targets, which are different shapes and colors. While their names are being selected, she refers to them by their target colors of Blue (the male), Yellow and Red. She can tell them apart, but says it is hard because the differences are subtle. The boy is a little smaller than his sisters but he has the biggest nose and feet and the slimmest face. Red has sharper colors on her fur and Yellow has the widest face.

As a trainer, Echevarria has been observing the otters’ behaviors as she works with them. She notes that Blue is a “typical little brother, constantly wanting to know what his sisters are up to and he often gets scolded by one or both of them for being too nosy.” She says he is very smart and eager to participate in training sessions.

“Older sister Red is in charge and will tolerate a lot from her siblings,” says Echevarria, “But once she’s had enough, she will put either of them back in their place.”  Red learns quickly, but is often likely to decide that a swim in the pool is more fun at any given time, notes the trainer. 
        
Yellow, says Echevarria, is the typical middle sister. “She is the peacemaker between the other two, but will hold her own when she decides to. She also learns quickly, but is easily distracted if something else seems more interesting, such as someone cleaning her habitat.” 

The otters are very bonded with each other and play together constantly. They have several sleeping den options, but always choose one to share for naps and nighttime. “They often run through their tunnels, resting under their shade canopy, playing with running water from the hose, swimming together in the pool, and playing tug-o-war with one of their enrichment items,” says Echevarria.

The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station is at the heart of the $187 million family entertainment complex currently under construction in downtown St. Louis. The Aquarium, the St. Louis Wheel and other attractions are being built under the 500,000-square-foot National Historic Landmark train shed at Union Station. Celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2019, Union Station opened in 1894 as the biggest and busiest train terminal in the nation. 

The 120,000-square-foot, two-story aquarium will open in December 2019. Featuring one-of-a-kind exhibits that will house 13,000 aquatic species from the rivers and oceans of the world, the Aquarium will manage environments built around a million gallons of water. Prior to the Aquarium’s debut, the St. Louis Wheel, a 200-foot-tall observation wheel will open on September 30, 2019 along with a whimsical carousel, an 18-hole mini-golf course and the St. Louis Union Station Soda Fountain.

The new attractions join the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, a Curio Collection by Hilton, as centerpieces of the entertainment complex at the landmark train station.

For more information on the St Louis Aquarium at Union Station, visit www.stlouisaquarium.com. Get updates and follow the construction progress on social media @aquariumstl. 

Via Press Release

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