Blue Hills Trailside Museum reopens with otter, a local picture book
MILTON – “She likes me!” A little girl squealed, leaning against the window of the otter’s new house.
A few inches away, the 15-year-old otter glanced at the people watching her and snapping their cameras.
While the otter – known simply as the “otter” – is no stranger to the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, it hasn’t returned to Milton in a while. The otter was temporarily moved to Franklin Park Zoo two years ago while its exhibit was being renovated, and around this time the pandemic also forced the museum to close.
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On Saturday, the otter and the museum returned in full force, as Blue Hills celebrated its grand reopening with a groundbreaking ceremony for the new otter exhibit.
The renovated exhibit – which includes a large outdoor area for the otter, indoor space for them to reside in bad weather, a nearby turtle enclosure, and museum upgrades – cost around $ 2.3million. dollars, said Lauren Gordon, director of the Blue Hills Trailside Museum.
“She loves being here,” said Gordon, describing how the otter has adapted to its new surroundings.
The old exhibit, Gordon said, was built in the 1960s and dated. The otter’s new house is built to look like a more natural habitat, full of varying elevations, running water, fallen logs, and sand pits for the otter to dig its legs into.
The animals at Blue Hills are not named, employee Emily Hastings said, to prevent people from considering them as pets.
The species on display at Blue Hills is a North American river otter, native to the area, Hastings said.
The exhibit is surrounded by fences and glass walls, and many children and adults craned their heads and pressed against the glass to spot the otter on Saturday morning.
Nearby, local author Ann Suzedell and illustrator Susan Kilmartin were signing copies of their children’s book, “One Day at Trailside”. The book features Blue Hills and, several pages in the picture book, offers an illustration of the otter display that sat right behind Suzedell and Kilmartin’s signature table.
Although the museum was closed last year, many still roamed the Blue Hills trails, especially during their forties.
“We see it everywhere,” said Jim Montgomery, commissioner for the Department of Conservation and Recreation. “We can always go outside.”
The trails and green spaces provided a place for people to go, not only to reconnect with nature, but also to regain mental well-being in a stressful time, said Mass Audubon President David O’Neill.
“The environment and nature are where people have found solace,” said O’Neill. “These types of places are really fundamentally important.”
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Contact Alex Weliever at [email protected].