THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
, Last Updated: 11:02 PM ET
MESA, Ariz. — A baby otter was nursed back to health after being rescued by utility workers who found it struggling to get out of a canal on the outskirts of Phoenix, officials said.
The 4-week-old otter was dehydrated, hungry and infested with fleas when it was discovered.
“He was calling for his momma, we assumed,” Salt River Project worker Craig Boggs told KPNX-TV.
“It would go back under water and fight and come back up,” he said. “He was about to give up. He was pretty exhausted.”
The workers took the otter to a wildlife centre, where it was fed trout mash mixed with kitten’s milk and nursed back to health.
When it improved, the otter was handed off to Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, said Nathan Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The Salt River Project crew found the otter on April 20. Boggs, Dave Massie and Joshua Shill were working on a road by the Arizona Canal when they noticed the otter that was too small to use steps carved into the bank.
They contacted the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which took it to the agency’s wildlife centre.
Officials didn’t know for sure how the otter got into the canal, but it’s believed an otter family lives along the Salt River near a dam that diverts water into the canal.
“Somehow the guy just got swept up and ended up on the other side,” Salt River Project spokeswoman Patty Garcia-Likens said.