As a young man Otter John
explored his wildlife interests by raising many different species
of monitor lizards. Raising wildlife seems to run in Johns
family. His uncle, Jim Mendenhall (a well known herpetologist in
Florida), has been a large influence in his life. John aquired a
wealth of knowledge while attending his uncle's reptile
sanctuary. He later joined the Everglades Herpetological Society
where he met and interacted with many well-known Herpetologists
such as Joe Wasilewski.
Otter John began his career with Parrot Jungle and Gardens, where he learned the logistics of animal training and care taking. His first role was as an animal trainer and show person for birds of prey, small mammals, crocodilians, and of course parrots. John had the privilege to work with Joe Wasilewski in his Fangs and Jurassic Jungle shows (Big Snakes and Giant Lizards).
Otter John further expanded his Animal expertise by joining a private wildlife company based out of South Florida. With this wildlife company John wore many hats. He fed, housed, nourished, trained, and performed with the entire animal team. The animals included Leopards, Tigers, Cougars, Lynx, Bobcats, Monkeys, Lemurs, Otters, Raccoons, Coatis, Kinkajous, Bats, Spiders, Scorpions, Crocodiles, Alligators, Caimans, Cobras, Vipers, Iguanas, Tortoises, Parrots, Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, Owls, and other animals. He traveled the Northeast, Southwest and Southeast United States performing and coordinating live animal shows.
John went on to establish Wild Florida Production Company based out of South Florida. He performs live animal shows regularly at Everglades Safari Park. He also has been working on several different projects, including film and TV documentaries about Our Animal Stars. One of Otter John,s favored attractions is by far his North American River Otters. Otter Johns three North American River Otters are named AJ, Barkley, and Jobe. All three Otters were orphaned from the wild and given to John when they were pups.
The responsibility of sheltering the otters began with bottle feeding every four hours until the otters were 12 weeks old. North American River Otters are one of the most prolific swimmers in the animal kingdom; but, this is a learned behavior taught by their mother. Since AJ, Barkley, and Jobes mother died when they were pups, John served as the otters daddy. He taught the otters to swim, first in his bathroom sink, then later in their natural habitat.
John does not restrain the otters when they are playing in the wild away from their sanctuary. The remarkable thing is that the otters free dive in close proximity to John at all times. A well-known fact is that the river otters are extremely good fishermen. During their outings in the wild the otters catch and eat several fish on their own. Even though all three of the otters look alike they each have specific traits that separate one from the other.
A.J., the oldest of the three, is known as the real emotional one. He can be the sweetest of the three; but, he can also be the most aggressive. He will sit and lick John's face. Yet, if the dinner bell rings and his food is not ready, watch out!
Barkley and Jobe are brothers born in the same litter. Barkley is the most observant as well as intelligent and demanding of the otters. He is the first to pick up on new behaviors, and the first to test you when you are not paying attention. Jobe is definitely the baby of all three otters. He requires constant attention, if not from one of his brothers, then Otter John is it. This is an extremely playful otter who enjoys nipping at your face when he is excited.
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