Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary is trying to nurse a baby otter back to health after it lost the use of its back legs. Kirikou, a 10-week-old female otter, lost its mother in a garden in Bressay just before Christmas.
The Redman family found the otter at their seaside house at Ham and watched and waited for three days for its mother to hear it whistling. Unfortunately the family dog found the otter cub before her mother did, and though Lucy the young labrador caused no obvious harm when she grasped her in her mouth, the experience left the otter unable to move her hind quarters.
After a visit to the Lerwick vet where X-rays showed no damage to her spinal cord, the local SSPCA brought Kirikou to the Hillswick sanctuary where Jan Bevington is standing in as both mother and nurse, feeding her milk from a bottle and attempting to bring some feeling back into her legs and tail.
Initially there was little sign of hope, but after two weeks of undivided attention the otter cub started to respond to treatment and now every day is showing some indication of improvement.
Medical advice from the vet and otter experts in England suggests that if Kirikou continues to make headway at the current rate she could be fully active within a few months.
“The Chestnut Centre in Derbyshire has rehabilitated hundreds of otters and they have breeding and educational programmes for otters in captivity, which can’t be released,” Mrs Bevington said.
“They told me we could regenerate the cerebral nerves, but it might take weeks or even months and she probably won’t be able to go back into the wild. But they said if we could get her legs working better they could take her and she could have a good life in captivity.”
Now the sanctuary is launching an appeal for help to raise funds to create facilities where they can look after Kirikou until she fully recovers.
“Our otter facilities have always been shoestring and it would be good to upgrade them, so we hope to get a little fund going in Kirikou’s name,” Mrs Bevington said.
More information about Kirikou and the appeal is available at www.shetlandwildlifesanctuary.com