US & Canada

An otter on the loose is eating koi from a formal garden

The errant river otter Image copyright Courtesy Sadie Brown
Image caption The errant river otter was spotted by garden visitor Sadie Brown

An errant river otter eating its way through prized koi carp in a famous garden in the Canadian city of Vancouver has so far evaded capture.

Officials at Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden say they do not know how the otter gained entry.

They are working with the city's park board and aquarium to safely capture and relocate the animal.

The otter believed to have eaten seven of the 14 fish since it appeared in the garden last weekend.

Communications director Debbie Cheung said the pond and its koi were an important part of the garden and had a cultural significance.

One fish, dubbed "Madonna", is an estimated 50 years old and has been at the garden for some two decades.

"Some of [the koi] have been with us for a long, long time. We see them as part of the team," she said.

The tourist attraction, as well as the adjacent public park, were closed on Friday "to facilitate containment of the river otter".

The Vancouver Park Board has hired a wildlife relocation expert to catch the creature and transport it to the Fraser Valley in south-western British Columbia.

Parks director Howard Normann said the first trap set earlier this week failed when the hinge that would have captured the otter ended up blocked by a branch and the animal simply feasted on the bait.

"The otter did take our tuna, did take our trout, did take our chicken," he told the BBC.

Now, a series of traps will be placed around the garden and park so they can catch the otter and allow it to be relocated to "a really nice new home".

Garden staff say they are looking forward to life returning to normal for both the otter and their fish.

The classical Chinese garden is billed as the first of its kind built outside China.

Modelled after the Ming Dynasty scholars' gardens in Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, it is located in Vancouver's Chinatown neighbourhood.

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