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Farewell to the Otter Show

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 22, 2010

up and eventually go out and start doing things on their own. Otters remain dependent on you. They want to be close to you all the time. It’s constant maintenance—mixing food, cleaning their swimming tanks, playing with them. It never ends. You go to sleep and you see otters in your dreams, and you wake up thinking about otters.”

After hearing about his otters, the manager of Runge Conservation Nature Center asked Glenn to bring Paddlefoot in for people to see. The reaction was tremendous, and before they knew it, the Chambers were doing live-otter programs on a weekly basis. They once performed 44 times in 11 days.

At first, they let the otters run loose among the audience. But, as the otters aged and grew larger and more aggressive, this became impractical. They built a wire pen, then designed a Lucite water tank for the otters to swim in onstage. Eventually, they had to buy a Chevrolet Suburban and a big cargo trailer to carry all the gear they used in shows.

Then things got really crazy. Glenn was working on a National Geographic film and needed more otters—10 more.

“That was a major zoo,” recalls Glenn. “We had just bought two new otter puppies to replace Paddlefoot and Babyfoot on the performing circuit. They didn’t even have their eyes open.

“I was babysitting those two, plus the circuit otters. The babies had to be fed every four hours. Jeannie would leave the house at 4:30 in the morning in her coveralls and feed the National Geographic otters at a facility near Ashland. Then she would change clothes and go to work in Jefferson City. She would stop on her way home and feed them again.”

When Jeannie got home in the evening, she took over with the babies while Glenn went to film “the Geographic otters” from 9 p.m. until midnight or 1 a.m.“That was our daily routine from Jan. 17 to Aug. 13,” Jeannie said. “When I think about it now, I wonder ‘How in the world did we pull it off?’”

People who attend the Chambers’ live-otter programs often approach them afterward, saying they want their own “pet” otters. “I tell them, ‘No you wouldn’t,” Glenn said. “These are not pets. They are a liability any way you cut it, and I have the scars to show for it!”

Male otters are more manageable than females. Females revert to their wild nature when they

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