Oriental small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea) housed inadequately at Underwater World Singapore, reports Wildlife Watcher (Singapore) and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Md. Hafiz’zan Shah, 2014. Investigations report into the conditions and welfare of the animals kept captive in Dolphin Lagoon and Underwater World Singapore, Sentosa. Wildlife Watcher (Singapore), 30p [link] reports:

… Asian Small-clawed Otters are housed in sub-standard conditions, indicating an obvious lack of welfare and serves no educational and conservational purpose.

During the investigations on 23rd July 2014, we found a total of 3 otters housed in two separate enclosures, one enclosure housing 2 otters while the other housing only 1 otter.

This clearly violates the natural social grouping of Asian Small-clawed Otters where they can live in groups consisting of about 12 individuals, where they depend on each other for defence and grooming. It is well established that this otter is a sociable animal; it is not recommended or considered ever acceptable to keep a lone animal*.

It also contradicts the section ‘social behaviour’ stated on the signage that UWS has in front of the otters’ enclosure. The otters are only given small exhibition spaces with insufficient sheltered area and a small shallow pool with little water in each enclosure in which are barely reached the minimum standard*. The shallow pool disallows the natural behaviour of otters diving and swimming to hunt for their food as well as bonding through play with other otters in the family group. Both enclosures have no natural substrates such as grass, soil or pebbles but only cemented flooring can cause foot and tail sore*.

DolphinLagoonUWSSingapore.pdf (page 23 of 30)-2

*Heap, C. J., L. Wright & L. Andrews, 2008. Summary of Husbandry Guidelines for Asian Small-clawed Otters in Captivity. IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group, Otters in Captivity Task Force.

Wildlife Watcher (Singapore) and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are requesting responses from Haw Par Corporation Limited, UWS and AVA. Read the document here.

See also these reports:

  1. “Dolphins at Underwater World in ‘satisfactory’ condition: AVA,’ by Today, 27 Oct 2014]
  2. “Underwater World Singapore criticised for ‘sub-standard’ animal living conditions,” by Laura Elizabeth Philomin. Today, 27 Oct 2014.
  3. “Pink dolphin at Underwater World Singapore has non-contagious skin cancer,” by Audrey Tan. The Straits Times, 27 Oct 2014

Photos by Wildlife Watcher (Singapore) and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.