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Zoo News Blog

Mourning the Loss of Elderly Giant River Otter Rijo

On Friday morning, the Houston Zoo said goodbye to 15-year-old giant river otter, Rijo, after he had been battling chronic arthritis. Rijo’s condition was able to be managed until recently where his arthritis progressed to the point where medication could no longer provide enough relief or comfort. Unfortunately, the Zoo’s veterinary and animal care teams made the difficult decision to euthanize him.

Quality care and advances in veterinary medicine extend animals’ quality of life longer than ever. At 15 years old, Rijo lived well beyond the 12-year average lifespan of giant river otters.

Rijo came to the Houston Zoo in 2020 to help open the Pantanal exhibit. Rijo was well-loved by the animal care team and will be remembered for his joy of gliding on his belly down the slippery slide, his curiosity to investigate new things and his love for taking mid-day naps during the summertime. Rijo’s partner, Marley, will be introduced to the Zoo’s other giant river otter, Max, who’s partner recently passed away of similar age-related issues in October.

Rijo will be missed by the entire Zoo family.