British Columbia

Wayward Chinatown otter making a meal of Sun Yat-Sen koi

Park staff don't know where the otter came from or how it got there.

Park staff don't know where the otter came from or how it got there

An otter sits in a Chinese garden.
An otter has moved into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver. (Sadie Brown/Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden)

A wayward otter who moved into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver is making a meal of the attraction's valuable koi fish.

The animal, identified as a river otter, was first spotted Saturday in a pond shared by the garden and the adjacent public park. Staff say it has eaten at least five of the dozen adult koi.

"The kois are part of our team so it's quite devastating for us," said communications director Debbie Cheung. "But at the same time the otter is looking for food, right? We don't want to blame the otter."

Cheung says staff haven't been able to determine if the garden's prize 50-year-old koi Madonna has survived the otter incursion.

"The five bodies we've seen so far isn't her," she said. "She's been with us for 20 years and it would be very sad if we lost her."

Vancouver Park Board staff were on site Tuesday morning installing a trap. If the otter is captured, the plan is to relocate it to Stanley Park.

It's not known where the otter came from or how it found its way to the walled-in garden, although Burrard Inlet to the north and False Creek to the south are both less than one kilometre way.

The public is being asked not to feed the otter. 

Cheung says staff will look at replenishing the koi population. They'll also be devising a wildlife plan for when animals other than ducks and herons come into the garden.