Meet them in St. Louis.

By Valerie Fraser Luesse
January 26, 2020
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station

Born at Flamingo Gardens in Florida, otter babies Sawyer (as in Tom), Finn (as in Huck), and Thatcher (as in Becky), have settled into their new home and sprawling two-story tank at the St. Louis Aquarium, which opened on Christmas Day, 2019.  Sawyer and Thatcher are sisters; Finn is their brother (and by all accounts, a mischievous one).

There’s more to the otter exhibit than just watching the sibs have a big time. The fur trade and water pollution all but wiped out river otters in much of their North American habitat, but they’re making a comeback through conservation efforts, like those of the Florida wildlife sanctuary where Sawyer, Finn, and Thatcher were born.

In case you’ve never seen one, otters look like a loveable cross between a beaver and a seal. And this just in: They can hold their breath for maybe 8 minutes, giving them plenty of underwater frolicking time before they have to come up for air. Just like human tots, Finn, Thatcher, and Sawyer are learning as they play. They practice both social and hunting skills as they dip, dive, and twirl in the water.

The one-year-old trio are part of Changing Rivers—one of six aquarium exhibits, including Shark Canyon, The Ocean Shore, The Deep, Global Rivers, and Confluence. While some exhibits venture into the sea, the aquarium has a special focus on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

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A $45 million, 120,000-square-foot attraction—and home to some 13,000 critters—the aquarium is part of an even bigger $160 million redevelopment of historic Union Station. Another new addition to the complex is the 200-foot-high St. Louis Wheel, which gives visitors amazing views of the city during a 15-minute ride in 42 enclosed gondolas—all climate controlled, so no heat and humidity from the Mighty Mississippi while you’re aboard.

For information on tickets, hours, and directions, click here.

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