SEATTLE — Duncan, a 21-year-old male North American river otter at Woodland Park Zoo, has died, zoo officials said.
Duncan died of age-related issues. He was being treated for osteoarthritis, the zoo's associate veterinarian, Dr. Tim Storms, said.
"Duncan had been on a variety of medications for arthritis and had been under quality of life observation for nearly four years because of concerns with weight loss, rear limb weakness and reduced flexibility in his spine. Fortunately, he passed away quickly without any prolonged pain," said Storms.
Zoo officials said Duncan was found as an orphaned pup in the Port Townsend area and was moved to the zoo in 2004 after spending time at a rehabilitation center.
"Duncan was compatible with past companions and was best buds with a male companion, Ziggy. The otter keepers gave Ziggy access to Duncan after he died, so he could be aware of his death," said Tina Mullett, an animal care manager at the zoo.
Zoo officials said river otters can live 18 to 20 years because of the emerging field of zoo medicine.
The zoo's animal health team has performed a necropsy and will share the results nationally among scientific colleagues to help advance the understanding of medical issues in otters, as is standard procedure, officials said.
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