Dubuque's River Museum looking to expand otter exhibit - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque's River Museum looking to expand otter exhibit

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque is looking to expand their otter exhibit, giving the pair much more land.

Andy Allison, director of living collections, says new research shows that otters need much more land than originally thought.

Currently, the exhibit is made up of about 70 percent water.

"Habitats were built so that otters would have a lot of water space. But now we've found that they actually do better if they have 75 percent land, so they have more foraging opportunities, different types of substrates, abilities to play and climb," he said.

More land space will also increase the chances of breeding--something not usually done by otters in captivity.

Bart and Momma are the two otters at the exhibit--they've been at the museum since it opened in 2003.

Allison says the two are pretty well adapted to the habitat, but says a new exhibit would much better serve future otters.

But the otters wouldn't be the only ones to benefit from a bigger exhibit.

"And it's not just building a bigger exhibit. We also want to make it more interactive for guests. We want to add a bubble window into the exhibit, so that guests can crawl underneath, and pop their head up, and basically be right there with the otters," Allison said.

Allison says they're just starting to plan and look into costs, but he says he believes it'll cost a few hundred thousand dollars.  He says their exploring options for funding, saying it'll most likely be a combination of private donations and public money.

He says the new exhibit could be done in the next two to three years.

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