Watch CBS News

Giant otter from Los Angeles Zoo to help rebuild Argentina's extinct population

Rosario, the giant otter, has made an international move from the Los Angeles Zoo to Argentina and faces the monumental task of helping to rebuild the country's sea otter population, as it has gone extinct there.

The transplanting of the 8-year-old giant otter and her male partner, a giant otter from a European zoo, is part of a special breeding program led by Rewilding Argentina, the government of Corrientes, and Argentina's National Parks Administration.

"This project marks many firsts," said Sebastián Di Martino, conservation director for Rewilding Argentina. "It's the first time in history that humans are reintroducing the giant otter and the first time an extinct mammal is being reintroduced in Argentina."

The project also includes two other breeding pairs, with offspring planned for release into the wild in Iberá National Park, located in the northeast province of Corrientes. The national park is almost 395,000 acres and is part of Iberá Park, which includes Iberá Provincial Park, at 1.3 million acres.

"The L.A. Zoo has a long history of providing care, wellbeing, and husbandry for giant otters, and I am excited that Rosario is helping to ensure the return of her species to Argentina," Candace Sclimenti, curator of mammals for the Los Angeles Zoo said.

Rosario, an 8-year-old female giant otter, moved from the Los Angeles Zoo to Argentina to help rebuild the extinct sea otter population in the region.  Los Angeles Zoo

Two animal care experts from the zoo flew with Rosario to Argentina. She is currently in quarantine to ensure the safety of the other sea otters in the program.

Once quarantine is complete, she will be transported to a species-specific, pre-release corral on the shores of the Paraná Lagoon on San Alonso Island in Iberá National Park.

The corral is in a forest area with plant cover and an aquatic area. Experts say that reintroducing the giant otter, a top predator, will help rebalance the ecosystem on both water and land.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.