Jogger, 52, bitten by otter at Kallang Riverside Park regrets not keeping safe distance from the family with pups

He was excited to see such a big family and followed them while filming from two meters away.

Zi Shan Kow | April 04, 2022, 06:15 PM

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A 52-year-old jogger was bitten by an adult otter on Apr. 4 that was likely acting in defence.

The jogger is believed to have unknowingly gotten too close to the family of 26 otters in his attempt to film them at Kallang Riverside Park.

Excited to see a large romp of otters

The incident took place at 6:45am, according to Shin Min Daily News (Shin Min).

The man, surnamed Ang, said that he runs at the park on a daily basis.

"I encounter otters once or twice every week, usually only about five or six individuals," he said.

Ang said that he was beyond excited when he saw a romp of otters with around 30 individuals on the morning of Apr. 4.

He then followed behind them, keeping a distance of about two meters, in an attempt to capture a better video of the encounter, Ang said.

Two other park goers at the scene followed suit, added Ang.

After following them for about 30 seconds, one adult otter suddenly charged at him and bit his leg.

Ang said that he was shocked and saw the otter that bit him join the rest of the group afterwards.

The family of otters then returned into the waters and swam away.

"I was too careless"

At Raffles Hospital, Ang received a tetanus shot to ward off any infection, reported Shin Min.

He was assessed to have no major medical issues. The doctor gave him a five-day medical certificate to rest at home.

"I was too careless. My wife and I would usually remind our children not to go too near the otters, but it slipped my mind," said Ang.

Group has three otter pups

Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) Co-CEO Kalai Vanan told Mothership that members of the public should always give wild animals like otters space when they encounter them.

He added that the man had came too close to the otters, causing them to feel threatened and turn defensive.

Kalai reminded members of the public to turn off flash when taking photos, not to feed wild animals and avoid provoking them.

The family of otters involved is the famous Bishan family, nature enthusiast Bernard Seah told Mothership.

He also pointed out that there were three otter pups present with the family of 26, according to footage from Shin Min.

The three pups belong to an otter named White Tip that was exiled from the Bishan family for a short while in 2019 but has since returned to the family.

White Tip had a litter of four babies but one pup died last week. White Tip's pups were also observed to be smaller in size as she may not have enough milk to feed all of them, some otter enthusiasts suggested.

Seah, who has followed the otters for a long time, expressed his disappointment for "people [who] never learn to leave wildlife alone".

"I have seen people too many times getting too close and too complacent in the presence of wildlife."

Seah reminded members of the public to use the zoom function on their phone or zoom lenses so that they can get closer to wildlife without putting themselves or the animals at risk.

Adult otters are protective of their pups

Like other wild animals, the adults in an otter family are more protective of the young ones.

Ottercity, a page managed by otter enthusiasts in Singapore, has put out reminders about this.

A post on March 19 also highlighted that the adults in the Bishan otter family are "very protective of the little ones and will charge at you if you go too close".

Seah said that the otter that bit Ang could be any adult or sub-adult in the group, but there is a higher likelihood that it was White Tip due to her maternal instincts.

The otter probably reacted to distress calls by the younger ones among the family, those that have had less exposure to humans.

Based on his experience, Seah said that the bite appeared to be a warning for Ang.

"This individual, be it White Tip or not… ran up, nipped the human to warn the human to stay back and turned away to join the family. What I just described is equivalent to a human slapping or punching a threat to their offspring that cannot fend for itself yet to stay back after ignoring earlier telltale signs."

Wild animals do not usually attack unless they feel threatened or provoked.

Previously, a jogger was bitten by a romp of otters at the Botanic Gardens. The group likely had mistaken the jogger for another man before him who ran straight into the otters.

Top images by Shin Min Daily News.