Open 361 Days a Year: Admissions 10:00am – 3:30pm; park closes at 4:30pm

Reservations are not required, and tickets do not need to be purchased online in advance.

American River Otter

American River Otter

Lontra canadensis

Appearance: From their webbed feet to their rudder-like tails and extra eyelids that act as goggles, river otters are well-adapted for a life in the water. Typical adults have long, muscular bodies measuring three to four feet long; about a third of that length is their tails.

Range: River otters can be found in a variety of freshwater habitats including streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. Their dens are often dug into the bank of a stream, or they may utilize an old beaver lodge, muskrat house, or even a hollow tree. While they have few natural predators, trapping, habitat destruction, and water quality remain their largest threat. Otters were brought back from the brink of extinction in the state of North Carolina. Reintroduction programs and improvement of water quality has led to this success.

Diet: River otters eat fish and crayfish and can also eat mollusks, crabs, amphibians, rodents, birds, eggs, and reptiles.


Olive the River Otter

Date of Birth: February 2004

Olive was born in the wild and came to the WNC Nature Center in May 2004. A family found Olive as a pup near their home in South Carolina. It is uncertain what happened to her mother, but she was alone. During her time with this family, Olive imprinted on humans, which means she trusts humans and never learned the skills she would need to survive in the wild.

Throughout Olive’s life at the WNC Nature Center, she has had several male roommates, and each time she has been the queen of the castle!


Obiwan the Otter

Date of Birth: March 2009

Obi-Wan was born at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in Pennsylvania. He came to the WNC Nature Center in January 2010. Since Obi-Wan was born at a zoo, he never learned survival skills and is not afraid of humans.

Obi-Wan’s name was chosen through a contest at the WNC Nature Center in 2010. Even though Obi is younger than Olive, he is bigger than she is. Besides size, another way to tell him apart from Olive is by his light blonde chin and chest.

Meet our other animals

American Black Bear

American Black Bear

Generally shy and reclusive animals, black bears avoid human contact and are not normally aggressive. Two black bears, Uno and Ursa, live at the Nature Center.

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Red Wolf Karma

American Red Wolf

Red wolves are highly endangered species that has been eliminated from almost all of its natural range. Our breeding pair of red wolves, Oak and Gloria, are part of the AZA Species Survival Plan.

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American Pygmy Goat

American Pygmy Goat

Similar to the Nigerian dwarf goat, the American pygmy is a small goat that only reaches 1-2 feet in height. They vary widely in coloration including white, tan, caramel, gray, and black.

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