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Otter Paradise - Local woman created haven over 18 years ago
Otter 1
    Otters are not the first wildlife you think about living in Bulloch County, but one resident has her hands full of them.
    Judy Young has taken care of otters on Bulloch land for more than 18 years. Her love of otters started with a single gift and grew into the main focus of her life today.
    Young, originally from Southern California, acquired her first otter while living on a sailboat off the coast of Panama. Some Oconee Indians, native to the San Blas Islands near Panama, gave her an otter cub, which she found difficult to keep on the boat.
    “In order to keep him, I had to start my own non-profit organization,” Young said.
    After living on her boat for 12 years, she made the move to southeast Georgia because it “was a warm place to live.” Her real estate broker suggested the area and she’s been here ever since. Now, she takes care of 10 otters on a 100-acre plot in the southern part of Bulloch County.
    Young acquired her animals from people all over the United States – from South Carolina to Chicago to Texas and Louisiana. Currently, she takes care of three Canadensis or North American river otters, three Asian small claws, four African spot-necked otters and one Cape Clawless. With names running from Tia to Loomele to ‘the little ones,’ she said she has developed a report with each animal.
    The cages need constant attention – up to three cleanings per day. As a result, Young retains three to four full-time helpers to assist with feeding, cleaning and all the other required operations. Some of the otters require special attention — one getting fed up to 20 shiners daily.
Her oldest otter, Tutu, is more than 20 years old. She has her own “outdoor cage” complete with private swimming pool, sleep area and plenty of room to move around. She hopes to have similar cages built for the rest of the otters soon.
    The otter conservatory is a non-profit organization and relies on tax-relief and donations to help keep it running. She has a number of private backers, who help offset the tremendous cost of caring for the otters.
    “It’s fairly expensive. Otter’s have very sensitive stomachs so you have to use all human quality food,” Young said.
    In addition to her many otters, Young also likes lots of other animals around her, including her horses, many birds and four large dogs who effectively intimidate the visitors. As a result, life at the Young place is full of squawks, whinnies and, of course, lots of playful splashing.
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