NORWALK, Conn. -- The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk welcomed an adorable new member to its family Thursday when 11-month-old Levi joined the river otter exhibit.
Levi was born in February at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport. He joins Lew, an 11-year-old river otter who has been alone in the exhibit since his companion, Bell, passed away in April.
"He's got some spunk to him," said John Lenzycki, curator of animals at the aquarium, the most popular tourist attraction in Fairfield County.
Levi has been at the aquarium since early November, Lenzycki said, but the aquarium wanted to give him time to acclimate to his new home before permanently introducing him to the exhibit. He and Lew were first kept in two cages, separated by an empty cage, while they acclimated to each other.
Then they were moved into side-by-side cages before being placed in the otter exhibit together. Lenzycki said it was important that they get used to each other and for the aquarium to make sure that they were a good fit.
As soon as Levi was introduced into the otter exhibit, he and Lew began playfully chasing each other around and wrestling on the rocks and in the water. Lenzycki said that this behavior is common.
"There will be some testing to see who's dominant, to see who gets the preferred spot in the habitat. They'll wrestle and tussle," Lenzycki said. "In a couple days they'll be inseparable."
Levi was acquired from the Beardsley Zoo as part of a cooperative breeding program. His parents live at the zoo, and his siblings who were born in the same litter will be sent to the Dickerson Park Zoo in Illinois and the Florida Aquarium.
The placement of the animals after they are born is determined by scientists, Beardsley Zoo Director Gregg Dancho said. They go to facilities that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
For visitors looking for Levi on their next trip to the aquarium, he's the smaller of the two otters and his neck is creamier in color than Lew's.
Lenzycki thinks that Levi will fit in well at the aquarium, and that his presence will be good for Lew as well. He said the river otters are among the most popular exhibits in the aquarium, and that visitors are sure to love Levi.
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