Giant Otter Injures Zoo Workers

Eric Gaba/Creative Commons
The giant otter is mainly a fish-eating species; humans aren't the right size to serve as its prey. Possibly the woman's scream provoked its attack. 

German woman hospitalised after otter attack |

"The 183-centimetre-long otter then attacked the woman, biting her several times on the arms and legs. A zookeeper nearby rushed to her aid, however he and an assistant were also attacked.

"We are very upset and cannot explain how this could happen," a spokesperson for the zoo said Friday.

The woman suffered serious injuries. She was reportedly put in an induced coma, and may have permanently lost the use of her arm as a result of the attack."


  1. This isn´t the first time I read about giant otters being "extremely dangerous" when kept in captivity.

    I find this interesting because giant otters play a large role in a story I wrote :>

  2. I actually had never heard of them being aggressive before, though I'd read a number of cases of river otters biting people.

    That sounds like an interesting story. . .

  3. I had read only mentions of their dangerousness, not actual cases, and I do remember an Animal Planet documentary about a woman who raised two orphan giant otters and she also stressed how dangerous they could be no matter how playful they seemed.

  4. It shouldn't surprise me, really. Any reasonably big carnivore has the equipment to hurt us, and probably will in certain circumstances.

  5. I doubt the woman even needed to scream to provoke an attack. It's past proven that otters are aggressively territorial animals--even in the wild, this has sometimes extended to swimmers among river otters--and even docile captive specimens have been known to suddenly exhibit aggressive outbursts (Dan Mannix, in his excellent book "A Sporting Chance", writes about this with the otter he raised.) A fully-grown giant otter, especially a sexually intact male, habituated to man, could probably make as nasty an antagonist as some of the medium-sized cats under the proper set of conditions.

    I have heard dubious anecdotes of wolverines exhbiting predatory behavior towards humans, though I've never been able to trace them to a source...however, given that a wolverine can kill a deer or elk if the animal is in some way incapacitated, I suppose it's not totally beyond the realm of possibility.

  6. I agree. There are legends about wolverines following hunters home without being seen, and then breaking into their houses to eat the people inside. It may be one of the many legends inspired by the creature- others being that you are condemned to eternal hunger if you cover yourself with a wolverine's skin, or the famous one that states that wolverines eat as much as they can, then squeeze themselves between two trees to vomit so they can keep eating-, but IMO legends have to stem from somewhere. I wouldn´t be surprised if wolverines attacked children or lone people during harsh winters, and even if they didn´t do it anymore, they may have done it in the past (many predators have learned to avoid humans after centuries of persecution- in my country, jaguars attack people very, very rarely, yet they were feared by the ancient cultures as man-eaters).

    Thats funny that the wolverine subject comes up again :>

    PS- In prehistoric times there were giant mustelids such as a cougar-sized otter, a leopard-sized honey badger and even a bear sized wolverine-like one. If they were alive today I'm pretty sure they would eat people as well.

  7. I haven't read that Mannix book--sounds interesting.

  8. I was unfamiliar with the prehistoric otter and honey badger, but Megalictis--the giant wolverine--was an animal I remember being very grateful no longer exists when I first read about it.

    The list of animals that rank as "probably have taken humans under X conditions" really is probably much larger than we tend to think, especially in remote areas.

  9. I'll bet you're right, James. I hope Croconut will write a book about the prehistoric ones.


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