Ho Chi Minh City forest rangers have reintroduced a male Asian small-clawed otter, previously used as evidence in a criminal case, to a protected forest in the city's outlying district of Can Gio, the municipal forest protection authority confirmed on Thursday.
On August 15, District 10 investigators initiated criminal proceedings related to the violation of endangered species protection regulations.
The otter was a key exhibit in the case.
Police handed the otter over to the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens Company, the entity entrusted with managing Vietnam's oldest zoo in Ho Chi Minh City – the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
This esteemed institution, established in 1864, provided the necessary care for the otter during the investigation.
|The otter is released to its natural habitat in a protected forest in Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Khai / Tuoi Tre
Mai Khac Trung Truc, director of animal care and health business at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens Company, said its employees took turns caring for the otter after receiving it from police officers in August.
They fed the otter milk, cooked fish, and raw fish. The animal weighed about 3.8 kilograms after four months of receiving care from the company.
District 10 police released the results of their investigation on November 7, culminating in a proposal to charge the defendants in the case and transfer the otter to the District 10 People's Procuracy.
Later, the District 10 People’s Procuracy opted to relocate the otter from the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens Company to the city’s Forest Protection Sub-Department on November 13.
|The otter takes a swim after being released back to nature. Photo: Ngoc Khai / Tuoi Tre
This small-clawed otter belongs to Group IB of rare and endangered species that need to be preserved, according to Nguyen Quang Hoang, deputy head of the wild animal rescue station under the city’s Forest Protection Sub-Department.
The sub-department teamed up with the Can Gio protection forest’s management authority to release the mammal into its natural habitat.
This protected forest provides the ideal environment for small-clawed otters to thrive, with its lush mangrove ecosystem offering abundant food sources and secure shelter.
The otter appears to have adapted well to the forest, Hoang added.