BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The staff at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is mourning one of their most charismatic animals, Mary the North American river otter.

Zoo officials said Mary was euthanized on Monday, Oct. 19 after a rapid decline in health.

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“Mary had remarkably few medical issues during her long life here at the Zoo,” said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation, and research at the Zoo. “She had some mild hind limb weakness for a few weeks and had improved on treatment. Then, last week she began losing weight rapidly despite her typical good appetite. Due to her age and the rapid worsening and severity of her signs, we made the tough decision to humanely euthanize her.”

Mary the river otter died. Credit: Maryland Zoo

Mary came to the zoo as a juvenile in 2000 after she and her brother Wilson were found as abandoned pups in Charleston, South Carolina. She was the oldest female North American river otter at 21 years old.

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“Mary the otter was always interested in the training sessions with the animal care team. The animal keepers and veterinary technicians worked with her to accomplish voluntary injections for vaccinations and anesthetic inductions, and had even recently trained her to allow voluntary blood draws from her tail,” stated Erin Grimm, mammal collection and conservation manager. “I cannot overstate the importance of the training program and the diligent care she received day after day which was key to providing her with a long life at the Zoo.”

In Maryland, river otters live in tidewater areas across the state.

“In her older years she was still vigorous and energetic, although she was not fond of sharing the habitat with the younger otters at all,” continued Grimm. “She was definitely a staff favorite and we will all miss her.”

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CBS Baltimore Staff