Meet the Bishan 10! These ten otters are some of Singapore's most famous residents, living around the city's Marina Bay and apparently undaunted by life in a crowded urban area. They're quite the local attraction, with a loyal cabal of humans waiting to see them appear in the evenings. Rebecca Bailey of the BBC writes:
The otters usually appear at about 17:30 in the evening. They don't always appear in the same place though, as I've found on many a frustrating occasion. I often meet others on the hunt for them, and we share stories about where we saw them last.
When you do find them, you get a proper show. They always seem to follow a similar pattern of behaviour. First they'll catch some fish, and proceed to happily tear them to pieces and devour them, either on the shore or in the water.
After dinner, they start to play, chasing each other around in the water - they remind me of a mixture between a dog, a cat and a seal. I've been reading up, and I know that most of this family is quite young - people think the smallest five were only born in December. Sometimes one of them gets separated from the group and mewing piteously, scrambles to catch up.
After about half an hour of this, and just as twilight begins to settle in, they'll scramble up the bank (cue lots of screaming from walkers taken by surprise), find a bit of bare earth, and start to roll around until they're coated in fine sand. A bit more frolicking, and then suddenly, just like that, it's time to go - they vanish down into the water, or under a bridge, in the space of a minute or two.
These Singaporean otters are a big deal, as otters were thought to have been driven from the area 40 years ago. Again from the BBC:
Now their resurging numbers are seen as a sign that the island's waterways are becoming cleaner, and last week "Ottie the Otter" became the official mascot of an island-wide conservation movement backed by the government.
"The otter is a particularly pertinent reminder of the need to continue preserving our environment so that we do not lose these beautiful creatures again," said a spokesman at the project launch.
Fittingly, the 13th International Otter Congress is taking place in Singapore this week, with the theme Otters and People.