Come home Jin, you really otter

By Mara Pattison-Sowden
Click on 'more pictures' above for a map of where the otter has been sighted

Jin has been on the run for nine days. Now the escaped otter is running scared.

She has been spotted twice in Devonport - 5.6km across the Waitemata Harbour from her home in Auckland Zoo's otter enclosure at Western Springs.

And this morning she was spotted in Devonport's Stanley Bay. Zookeepers were ont eh way.

Zoo staff believe she got out with two companions on June 13. The other otters were found in the zoo grounds soon afterwards, but it appears that Jin was carried out of Meola Creek on the outgoing tide and swam across the harbour.

"While otters are good swimmers, we're absolutely stunned at the distance she has travelled," said Auckland Zoo curator Maria Finnigan.

Zoo keepers are worried, saying Jin is staying on the move because she is in a state of panic.

Ms Finnigan said Jin, an Asiatic short-clawed otter, would not approach people, and it was important people did not chase or try to catch her.

"Although it's tempting to want to go after her, she will run. Keep a visual on her and then please give us a call [at the zoo] and we'll come get her."

Zoo staff have searched extensively, even using tape-recordings of otter calls in a bid to lure Jin back, said Ms Finnigan. On Tuesday morning, before the Devonport sightings, a tracker dog was used to search Meola Creek, Jaggers Bush and streets around the zoo.

The lost otter was spotted in Devonport when she popped up on her hind legs in a driveway on Stanley Point Rd on Tuesday night.

Zoo keepers were quick to set up traps around the area with Jin's favourite foods - the carnivorous otter enjoys meat, eggs and seafood.

But the traps have so far been unsuccessful.

Another sighting that evening was reported to the zoo yesterday.

This time Jin was spotted on Ewen Alison Ave in Stanley Bay by a 5-year-old who excitedly told his father "there's a seal on the road".

Although the otter had disappeared by the time his father went outside to investigate, this sighting gave the zoo further hope that Jin is still in the Devonport area.

With locals on the lookout, police aware of the situation and even the Navy keeping a vigil, Ms Finnigan is sure another sighting can lead to Jin's capture. "We believe she's more likely to head around to the mangrove area in Bayswater or go inland."

- additional reporting: NZPA

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