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ZooMontana celebrates Sam the otter's birthday

River otter at ZooMontana turns 3
Sam the Otter
Posted at 12:42 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 14:42:03-05

BILLINGS — Three years ago, on Feb. 19, Sam the river otter was born at Zoo Montana. Since then, he has become a staple at the zoo, charming both guests and zookeepers alike.

So, it’s no wonder this lovable guy gets a special birthday party with a unique treat.

“For his last birthday he got a popsicle,” says zookeeper Amanda Atkinson. “So we thought we would do something different this year. So he got sushi today.”

ZooMontana celebrates birthday of otter

Atkinson hand raised Sam when he was born and the two share a special bond.

“Sam at three years old still is just a big marshmallow. Being hand raised, it's pretty normal for them to be like that, but he's extra marshmallow-y," she said.

Sam is a very curious little guy, which is a big reason Atkinson says that otters make terrible house pets. They get into everything.

And though he has a lot of energy for his birthday party, his favorite pastime is napping.

“So basically, Sam's favorite pastime is sleeping in his blankets,” says Atkinson. “He's kind of shy so when there's a lot of public here, he'd rather just be sleeping than being stared at by guests.”

Sleeping or running around, this three-year-old is adorable. Otters can live over 20 years in captivity. But Atkinson has a word of caution for anyone who spots an otter out in the wild.

“What the public needs to know about river otters is that they're super cute as you can see. Sam's super affectionate, but in the wild, you don't want to ever approach a river otter. They are known to be super aggressive. So, enjoy them from a safe distance. Don't get too close.”

You can see Sam, from a distance, at ZooMontana almost every day... unless of course he is napping.

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