Published on September 30, 2019

Construction on Trailside's New Otter Exhibit Begins!

Special thanks to DCR Commissioner Leo Roy & Secretary Matthew Beaton

Otter Exhibit Maintenance Fund

After 50 years at Blue Hills Trailside Museum, Norman Smith retired from his role as Sanctuary Director in early November 2019. We invite you to celebrate his remarkable tenure and honor his retirement with a gift to the Otter Exhibit Maintenance Fund.

Donate Today >

American River Otter at Trailside © Shawn Carey
American River Otter at Trailside © Shawn Carey

Originally constructed in 1960 as one of Trailside's very first exhibits, it's time to improve the otter pool to meet modern standards while enhancing the educational experience.

Rendering of Trailside's new otter exhibit © RDLA
New otter exhibit plans (click to enlarge)

The anticipated completion date for this work is spring 2020.

This project will bring the otter pool more in line with current standards for animal husbandry, facilitate the care of the otter, and improve safety for the animal care staff and the public.

With a new waterfall, boulders, basking logs, sand pit, and native plantings, the otter habitat will encourage typical otter behavior and activities. A new shed will provide off exhibit holding quarters as well as allow safe access for staff. During construction, the adjacent turtle exhibit will also be rehabilitated and improved with a reconstructed basin and new glass panels for safe viewing.

The three main goals of the project are:

  • Safety – for the otter, staff, and public
  • Habitat – create an environment for the otter that meets AZA standards
  • Public Education – present a naturalistic environment which allows for typical otter behavior and activities

Otter exhibit groundbreaking ceremony © Raymond MacDonald
© Raymond MacDonald

Groundbreaking Ceremony

On May 13, 2019, Trailside celebrated the groundbreaking of construction on the new otter and turtle exhibits.

Thank you to DCR Commissioner Leo Roy, Representative William Driscoll, Representative William Galvin, and Senator Walter Timilty.


Project FAQ

Where will the animals live until the new exhibits are finished?

Trailside's 13-year-old resident American River Otter will temporarily be off exhibit and cared for by Zoo New England. The turtles will remain in the care of the Trailside, but will also remain off exhibit for the summer season.

Will anything be closed during construction?

The Museum, grounds, trails, and bathroom building will remain open throughout the construction—though some areas on the grounds may be restricted. See construction map below.

What if I have more questions?

Please contact us at 617-333-0690 or by email with any questions about the project or access to the grounds.

Otter exhibit construction map of Trailside