'Otter Passage:' Milwaukee County Zoo officials unveil new otter exhibit, West Entrance

MILWAUKEE -- There's a new otter exhibit at the Milwaukee County Zoo!

Zookeepers unveiled the new "Otter Passage" and the brand new West Entrance at the zoo on Thursday morning, May 17.

According to a news release, to start, three North American river otters, Emerald, Clover and Shamrock are taking up residence in the new otter exhibit called "Otter Passage." It's located in the northwest corner of the zoo. Zoo officials said in the release, depending upon how the animals acclimate, the otters may rotate time on exhibit and a male otter will eventually join the group, with the hope of establishing a breeding colony.

The exhibit features two pools, the deeper of which is eight feet deep -- with a splash pad, a river area with moving water and a 15-foot slide; all components designed with the animals’ needs and well-being in mind, the release says. The exhibit’s land area includes different substrates like dirt, grass and rock.

The exhibit came to be after zookeepers expressed a need for the animals to have different materials in which to dig -- keeping the active otters engaged and interested. An underwater viewing area and an artificial hollowed-out tree for kids to enter for an up-close look at the otters’ den, add to the visitor experience.

Meanwhile, the new West Entrance at the zoo allow for 525 visitor parking spaces, as the Zoo Interchange Project construction resulted in the elimination of parking spaces at the zoo’s main entrance.   Admissions, merchandise, concessions, restrooms and stroller rentals round-out the area.

The official public opening for the West Entrance is 10 a.m. May 19 and 20; resuming daily beginning May 26 through Sept. 3. Beginning Sept. 4, it will be open weekends only through Oct. 31.