If you find yourself in Louisiana on a trip, or maybe you live there and are looking for different to do this weekend, why not swim with otters?
Louisiana is known for its jazz music, its soul food, and now… well for its otter swimming.
Barn Hill Preserve, a federally licensed facility in Ethel Louisiana is home to a range of wild animals.
Aside from the Asian small-clawed otters, they’ve got red kangaroos and sloths!
Once you’ve seen the pictures, you’ll agree it’s well worth a visit.
The Asian small-clawed otters are actually the tiniest breed of otter in the world.
In the wild otters love nothing more than plunging into swampy waters, rivers, lakes, whatever cool water they can get their little webbed claws on.
Surprisingly these otters don’t seem to have any problem with sharing their bathing pool with the paying public.
These adorable tiny otters are so comfortable with their swimming buddies they’ve been known to pose for photographs. Aw.
Why not come and chill with your chilled-out pals and forget all about it?
If you’re tired of spending your weekend in the same bar with your pals, and you’re thinking to yourself, “surely there’s more to life than this…” you’re right there is… you could be swimming with otters.
It’s hard to feel sad when you’re singled out by the otters as someone they want to chill with. Just look at the way they all seemed to have magnetized to this guy!
The dude that runs Barn Hill Preserve, CEO John “Gabe” Ligon, spoke to Bored Panda about the ins and outs of the once in a lifetime experience.
Now that might seem like a lot but these swims are in high demand.
Ligon explained that to ensure the safety and comfort of the otters they do not offer loads of public swims. Each week they offer a couple of otter swims and for the rest of the time, the otters have the pool to themselves.
Ligon talked BP through the otter swim experience, saying: “Guests enter the pool, and the otters are introduced for playtime. If they want to play with enrichment toys on the deck, that’s their choice. Our otters are never forced to do anything, the entire experience is completely positive.”
Sadly the Asian small-clawed otter has struggled to maintain it’s natural habitat (freshwater wetlands in the South and Southeast Asia) due to huntings and issues surrounding pollution.
In a study carried out by IUCN, these tiny cute otters have been put on the red list marked as “vulnerable.”
The hardworking staff and volunteers at Barn Hill Preserve aren’t about to see these cute Asian small-clawed otters die out. Which is why they home so many of them in their preserve and are increasing the number bred each year.
Barn Hill Preserve, CEO, John Ligon stressed the point that the otters are not being commodified by the swimming. He wants to make people understand that away from the rare swims with the public the otters have a lot of private time. He explained: “Our otters on exhibit have a large behind the scenes privacy house that allows them to enter any time they aren’t feeling social.”
The company runs programmes and classes to teach the local public about the animals living in their area and to raise awareness about issues surrounding habitat and animal extinction.
From the staff, keepers, educators, and trainers, everyone that’s part of the Barn Hill team strives to do everything they can for animals in their care.
I mean we all know swimming in dolphins is wrong now, right?
Some concerned Facebook users were suggesting that otter swimming is just as bad as dolphin swimming…
“Human interaction with wild animals is not okay.”
This experience offered by Barn Hill Preserve certainly has divided people.
According to one Facebook user, her time spent swimming with the otters was the best day of her life.
It seems people who had actually visited Barn Hill could appreciate all the good work that the guys at the Preserve do. Those that have actually seen the otter swimming in action understood that there was nothing but good coming out of that place.
Personally, I think the otter swimming seems perfectly chill and nothing like dolphin cruelty.
Continue scrolling to learn about how bad places like SeaWorld are…