Luna struts for visitors in the renovated otter habitat at Grandfather Mountain. (Kellen Short/GMSF)
LINVILLE, N.C. — After a 2 1/2-month closure for renovations, the otter habitat is open again at Grandfather Mountain, and Nottaway and Luna are back in their renovated underwater viewing area.
"They're back to their old routine," Habitats Curator Christie Tipton said in a release from the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. "They're happily moved back in."
The habitat closed in late February to allow maintenance staff to repair the water-resistant membrane above the underwater viewing area. Water flow under the damaged membrane had caused cracks and crumbling in the cement and mortar of the structure.
The membrane and the structure's entrance walls were replaced. Landscaping the area is planned in the coming weeks.
While the renovations were underway, the habitat staff introduced Nottaway and Luna, both adult otters, to the mountain's youngest otter, Nova, in an off-display habitat called The Plaza.
Nova and Nottaway, an older, male otter, became fast friends, but as keepers feared, Luna's introduction to Nova was not as smooth. Despite two attempts at combining the two females, dominant Luna would not tolerate Nova's presence, so for the time being, Nova remains at The Plaza.
(Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park in the public interest and participate in educational research activities. For more information, call (800) 468-7325 or visit the Grandfather Mountain website.)