Man bitten 26 times by otters at S’pore Botanic Gardens says no to slaughter – Mothership.SG

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A man in Singapore recently experienced an encounter with an otter gone awry while walking in the morning through the Singapore Botanic Gardens with his friend.

The unexpected attack on the large otter family left him with around 26 bites and puncture wounds on the lower half of his body, along with emotional “trauma” and a lingering fear of returning to the park.

The area was dimly lit

Graham George Spencer, in his 60s, is a UK permanent resident in Singapore and has lived here since 2007.

The owner of a maid agency shared with Mothership that he was taking his daily walk at 6 a.m. to the Botanical Gardens on November 30, which he has been doing for the past five months.

At around 6:45 am, Spencer and his friend were finishing their walk and heading towards the entrance to the gardens when the first spotted a cluster of “brown objects” on the path in front of him.

As the sun had barely risen and the area was very dimly lit, Spencer, who was not wearing his glasses, initially believed the animals were monkeys.

As he got closer, he deduced that it was a family of about 20 otters, with a number of puppies in their midst.

At the same time, a runner was heading towards the creatures from the adjacent path and started running directly towards the animals. Spencer surmised that the runner had failed to spot the otters in time.

Here is a diagram he drew of the situation when the incident occurred.

Photo courtesy of Graham George Spencer

And that’s where the incident took place.

Photo courtesy of Graham George Spencer

The otters “jumped” him and “went mad”

As the runner passed Spencer and vanished into the distance, the otters instead set their sights on Spencer and “went crazy.”

“I didn’t move fast enough and they just jumped on me and they [were] on me and bit my ankle badly, cracked me, and they jumped on my butt and pushed me. And these things like … huge … [these] things [are] like dogs. “

Spencer said the otters even tried to bite his face, but their teeth dug into his finger instead when he raised his hands in defense.

The otters attacked him for about 10 seconds before his friend, who was about “15 paces” away, ran and started screaming and kicking the animals to frighten them.

This caused the group’s momentary retirement, and Spencer and his friend managed to escape the stage with the otters at their heels.

They reached a nearby reception center and received bandages when a guard returned from his break.

The doctor counted 26 bites

However, Spencer was still “in shock” and felt sick and dizzy after the attack. So his friend helped him get to the Accident and Emergency Department at the nearby Gleneagles Hospital for treatment.

There he received tetanus vaccines and antibiotics. Some of his injuries also required stitches.

Photo courtesy of Graham George Spencer

Photo courtesy of Graham George Spencer

The doctor counted 26 bites on her buttocks, legs and finger in total. An otter bite had even managed to make a hole in his shoe.

So far, Spencer has visited the doctor three times for treatment and has spent around S $ 1,200 on medical bills.

Photo courtesy of Graham George Spencer

Not only did the attack leave Spencer with physical injuries, it made him become an “emotional wreck,” he said.

Spencer shared that he was lucky his friend was there during the attack, or he thinks he would have died otherwise.

“I’m convinced that if my friend hadn’t been with me and it was just a little girl running … you could die. Because in fact … I couldn’t, and I am a big guy, I couldn’t With the trauma of being bitten, my body just couldn’t stand up.

… If you’re a 40/50 kg helper, running like I do that morning, or you know, anyone just on the road, then you can’t get up because it’s like to be among the piranhas, they are just crazy. “

He is now hoping he can still sit on the flight back to the UK on December 13 despite his injuries.

Compensation offered by NParks

Spencer claimed that Botanic Gardens staff “initially did not appear to be interested” in his calls to cordon off the area to prevent future attacks.

From his subsequent communication with NParks, Spencer said they told him they were investigating the incident and “can’t say more.”

However, he believes the authorities are not doing enough and has decided to hire a Singaporean lawyer.

Spencer also revealed that on December 9, an NParks staff member called him to offer him S $ 900 compensation for his medical bills.

However, he did not respond to their offer, believing that his insurance covers the cost of his medical bills.

Instead, he urges the authorities to take bigger steps so that others do not suffer like him.

“I think it’s pretty clear what I keep asking [the authorities]: Please cordon off the area. Do something to stop the possibility of this happening again while [you] investigate. […]

I think what I’m trying to do is get them to be rational and do two things. One is to recognize that there is a problem. You can’t just tell they are roaming free, they go all over Singapore. It’s ridiculous.

I mean, you know, otters might look nice, but they don’t do anything, they don’t do anything positive. They just eat your fish and swim in the lake. And that’s what they do. They might look cool to watch, but they’re not little puppies that can be petted, and if a child tries to do that, they’ll bite them. “

Social media reactions

The incident has since sparked a series of reactions on social media.

Several Facebook users have identified the runner in question and have advised those who run or jog in natural areas to closely watch the animals and let them go first.

Some netizens blamed Spencer, speculating that he probably provoked the otters somehow, while others still didn’t believe his story.

However, a number took a more neutral stance and noted that wildlife should always be admired from a distance.

Don’t call to slaughter otters

Responding to the backlash, Spencer conceded that netizens were “absolutely correct” that the otters who attacked him were provoked.

“People love otters like me. I have nothing against otters […] Any animal that you provoke, whether it does it by accident or on purpose, is going to react, and it did. The runner, to me, was innocent as he was running on a path that he probably uses a lot. And because it was very dark, he never saw them. And he just ran over to them. And he was walking on them. And they were obviously provoked. Yeah, absolutely correct. They were provoked. “

“You can’t help these are animals and of course they will fight, the adults will save the [babies] and I totally accept it. I have no remorse about it, “he said.

Ultimately, Spencer maintains that he is not calling for the culling of the otter population.

“No I don’t want that, I don’t blame the otters at all […] What I want to do is make sure there is an area in the lake where they can live happily. We can watch them and be nice to watch them. But I don’t have to worry that they’ll come after me when I’m there. “

“I don’t want to kill them. I don’t want to hurt them. I just want to make sure that they are protected and that the [human] the population is protected, ”he added.

He concluded that he was sharing his story not for the purpose of causing trouble, but to educate the public.

“You know, people will always come out… and I don’t quite understand that because there’s no point in lying about something. I’m here as a PR. I never cause a problem. I’m here, I’m working. It’s my home, but it’s not my country. And I don’t want to cause any problems either. So I don’t try to make claims. I just try to us protect, that’s all. “

NParks monitoring the movement of otters

In response to MothershipSingapore Botanic Gardens group director Tan Puay Yok said in a statement that NParks is aware of the incident and is in contact with Spencer.

Tan shared that the otter bites in the gardens and parks are “rare”.

He advised visitors to green spaces to be mindful of their surroundings, observe wildlife from a safe distance, avoid feeding or approaching them, especially when there are puppies, as the adults can protect their young when approached by humans.

Singapore Botanic Gardens volunteers and staff monitor otters’ movements and educate the public about the importance of observing them from a distance and not interacting with them.

Educational signs and notices have been placed in the gardens to advise visitors on how to deal with otter encounters.

Here are some tips from Parks on what to do if you encounter otters:

  • Don’t touch, chase, or corner otters. Observe them from a distance. Getting too close to otters can scare them off.
  • Do not speak loudly or use flash photography. Noise and light can scare and provoke otters.
  • Do not feed the otters. Otters have their own food in the environment, and their natural eating habits keep the ecosystem healthy.
  • Do not throw trash or leave sharp objects in the water. Clean, safe streams full of fish and aquatic life provide good habitats for otters to frolic and feed.
  • Keep your dog on a tight leash. Your dog might chase otters and scare them away.

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Top photo courtesy of Graham George Spencer

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