A pair of orphaned otters poked snouts tentatively into the water, backed away and generally dithered until a fish dangled before their noses was too much to resist and they plunged into a pool at The Florida Aquarium.
Today was the final lesson in their swimming instruction, a task their mother normally performs in the wild. Aquarium workers had to step in as surrogate swimming instructors for Allie and Mace.
The two otters are about 6 months old and were brought to the aquarium four months back. Allie was found in Plant City and Mace in Riverview, both wandering without their mothers, said Katie Jeffrey, a biologist at the aquarium.
The otters already had been introduced to water in smaller pools at the aquarium but today was their first dip into a larger tank.
Once they decided to take the plunge, they were soon cavorting in the glass-fronted tank.
"Otters aren't born with the ability to swim. We have to step in and help them," Jeffrey said.
Now that Allie and Mace are accomplished swimmers, they will be brought to the tank regularly, she said.