British Columbia

Koi Story 2: Prized fish return to Vancouver's Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden after otter attacks

UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden and a private collector donated new adult fish

Posted: May 09, 2019
Last Updated: May 10, 2019

An employee of the Vancouver Aquarium gently helps a koi fish swim into the pond of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden Thursday. The garden's prized fish had to be removed as a ravenous otter feasted on them last fall. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Ornamental koi returned to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver Thursday after being removed last year when a river otter entered the garden pond and killed 11 of them.

The Vancouver Park Board said several younger koi have already been returned to the pond, as well as adult fish donated by the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia and a private collector.

"The story has become something of an urban legend," Debbie Cheung, a spokesperson for the garden said. "We are just happy to see our koi back and new koi joining us."


Reporters watched the remaining resident koi return Thursday.

Staff scrambled

Staff at the garden had to scramble to save the culturally significant fish last November when an elusive — and now infamous — otter was spotted in the garden. Three adult koi and 344 juvenile koi were removed for safekeeping.

Visitors present on Thursday were delighted to see the fish return.

"I feel very lucky, very good, because the Chinese people like fish," said Tiffany Xi, a tourist from China. "When you see the fish you feel lucky."

Carlos Fernandez was among the many visitors to the Dr. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden Thursday, the day the koi returned to their home. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Carlos Fernandez, visiting from Seattle, heard the garden's life and death story from media reports.

"The poor little koi and the otter needed to eat, and how did he get in? That's the one question," Fernandez asked.

In a statement, the Park Board said staff have modified the entrances and exits to the garden to "deter future otter visits."