While otters and other members of the wildlife community may look incredibly adorable to get up and close with, there’s a pretty good reason (or two) as to why you shouldn’t.
Unless you want your next animal sighting adventure to end in… an otterly terrible way.
Unfortunately, a man at Kallang Riverside Park learned this the hard way.
The 52-year-old man, who only wanted to be known as Mr Ang, saw a pack of around 30 otters on Monday (4 April) at Kallang Riverside Park while he was jogging.
The otters caught his attention as they were moving about in a bigger group than the groups he was used to seeing in the past, so Mr Ang decided to do what most of us Singaporeans would, which was to follow them and film videos of them.
And if you haven’t seen how big a pack of 30 otters can get in the past, here’s a clip for you to see it with your own eyes.
Mr Ang, an engineer, mentioned that he sees otters during his daily jogs at the park around once a week, but they usually appear in groups of either five or six.
And although he made sure to keep a two-metre distance from the pack while following them, an adult otter pounced on Mr Ang and bit him on the calf around 30 seconds after he started following them.
“I was a little shocked when the otter turned to me, my instinct was to stay still and hope nothing would happen. I didn’t think it would bite me,” Mr Ang, who lives near the park, explained.
Did Not Call an Ambulance
Even though Mr Ang started bleeding from his leg afterwards, Mr Ang felt that the injury was not serious enough to warrant an ambulance call, and hence decided to take care of his injury by himself.
He explained that he washed his wound at a toilet in the vicinity before taking a bus to Bugis. He then sought medical treatment at Raffles Hospital.
After getting an X-ray and tetanus shot, the doctor issued him five days of medical leave, although Mr Ang has mentioned that he is feeling “fine”.
His Family’s Reaction
He then recounted his experience to his family, who treated the situation lightheartedly.
“When I told my family what happened, they said it served me right,” he recalled as he laughed.
He also added that he actually told his family to refrain from getting close to wild animals in the past, but ended up not following his own words instead.
“I have advised them to not get close to wild animals in the past, but in my excitement I forgot to heed my own advice,” Mr Ang said.
However, he also affirmed that he will still continue to jog on a daily basis at the park, and that this particular incident has not deterred him from doing so.
Co-chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Mr Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan, brought up the fact that even though otters may look adorable to us humans, they are ultimately still wild animals.
“While it’s wonderful to be able to see wild animals within our urban landscape, we need to know what to do and how to be around them,” he noted.
He also emphasised the importance of us giving wild animals the space that they need.
“The otters in Mr Ang’s video have pups with them. This would make the adults more cautious and protective of their surroundings,” he observed.
“The person following the otters may have further triggered the family into thinking he is a potential threat, which is the likely reason for the otters turning defensive.”
Mr Ang also remarked that he hopes his experience will remind other members of the public to refrain from getting close to wild animals when they see them.
He concluded by saying, “Everyone should remember to keep a safe distance from wild animals and just admire them from afar.
“I hope nothing happens to the otters because it’s really not their fault. I blame myself—I shouldn’t have got so close.”
Although the incident may appear to be shocking for some of us, it’s far from the first of its kind in Singapore.
Last year, an otter bit the leg of a 77-year-old man at Upper Boon Keng Road, which is near the Kallang River where Mr Ang was bitten. The incident occurred in May.
Another similar incident happened on 30 November last year as well.
A man ended up with over 20 wounds from otter bites while he was on a morning walk.
Mr Graham George Spencer, the victim, saw around 20 otters that were travelling across a dark pathway when another runner ran towards the pack of otters.
The otters were disturbed and attempted to attack the runner, but ended up biting Mr Spencer instead.
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