Significant Otter: Mollie and Clara move into Audubon Aquarium

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Two new sea otters have moved into the Audubon Aquarium.

Mollie and Clara join Emma, who has been at the aquarium since 1999 to give visitors a trio to enjoy.

It has only been a week since they arrived, but it is safe to say, Mollie and Clara are doing, well, swimmingly.

After watching the otters get acquainted to their new digs behind glass at the aquarium, two things are abundantly clear: these ladies have an appetite for fun, and an appetite for food, both in large quantities.

"The lowest one of their diets is Emma, and she eats seven pounds of seafood per day, and Clara's up closer to eight pounds," said Jessica Berman, an otter trainer at the aquarium.

In a town known for its seafood, these sea mammals are right at home eating a steady diet of clams, mussels, white fish and more.

"They love their blue crab, which they never had until they moved to New Orleans, so that's been a big hit for them," Berman said.

The Grade A restaurant-quality cuisine adds up to a small fortune.

"To give you a little estimate, their diet costs between thirty and forty thousand dollars to feed one sea otter," Berman said.

She trains these furry friends and says getting them to New Orleans from California was quite the undertaking.

"So the transport process was probably close to 20 hours for our staff. A little bit shorter for the animals, because they didn't have quite as much prep work," Berman said. "But we were up very early in the morning. They voluntarily will walk into transport kennels, we can close the door, and they got transported down here via FedEx."

They were precious cargo, indeed. Those at the aquarium say Mollie and Clara are two of only 3,000 sea otters worldwide. Berman says sea otters have the thickest fur coat of any other animal on the planet. Their abundant fur, made them a target.

"The fur trade almost unfortunately wiped them out in the 1800's to early 1900's," Berman said.

But these two are now safe in the care of the Audubon Aquarium staff and will be treasured for years to come by kids young and old.

They're otter-ly impressive.

The Audubon Aquarium is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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