Coronavirus lockdown sparks a surprising backlash against otters in Singapore, the 'Otter City'

Coronavirus lockdown sparks a surprising backlash against otters in Singapore, the 'Otter City'

Life was already hardscrabble for the seven river otters known as the Zouk family. Prime land next to Singapore’s sparkling waterways brimming with fish had been seized by other clans, forcing the hapless group to wander the city-state each day in search of food and shelter. But few noticed their forays until a coronavirus shutdown known as the circuit breaker was imposed in April. With the streets nearly emptied, the Zouks — named after a local nightclub — started appearing in unexpected places: splashing around in a , taking a break outside a usually teeming and trying to cut through the lobby of a . It all seemed rather harmless. But calls for a crackdown on the otter population began when the Zouks raided a private pond stocked with expensive ornamental fish on the grounds of a spa owned by a former actress. “The otters killed all the fishes in the pond,” Jazreel Low wrote in punctuated by a sad face emoji and what looks like a surveillance camera image of four otters skipping through her temporarily shuttered business. Low later of her 13-year-old arowana, Ah Huat — meaning “to prosper” — in better times. “Darn otters! They gotta pay for it!” wrote one sympathetic commenter. Within days, there were calls on social media and to cull the slippery animals. A published in the local Straits Times recommended deterring otters with air horns and rubber bullets. “Wild boars have never been encouraged to enter urban areas, neither should otters be just because they look cute,” wrote Ong Junkai, an aquaculture ...
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