‘I’m the world’s biggest otter fan and I cried with joy when I met one called Ozzy in Birmingham’

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Watch the adorable moment the world’s biggest otter fan met one called Ozzy in Birmingham

This is the adorable moment an otter-obsessed woman comes face-to-face with the UK’s only rescued pair in captivity.

Self-confessed ‘otter-holic’ Mary Heathcote has spent more than 60 years helping to protect the animals. Her 500-piece collection of otter memorabilia, including jewellery, clothes, ornaments and even a 6ft wooden statue, is crammed into her home in Somerset.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The 70-year-old was made guest of honour at Birmingham’s Sea Life Centre where she met Ozzy and Ola – the very first pair of sea otters to be rehomed in the UK. She fed the otters and even shook paws with Ozzy – who was named after Brummie rock legend Ozzy Osbourne.

Mary said: “I honestly can’t believe this has actually happened, it’s like all my Christmases and birthdays have come at once. I’ve been all over the world to look for sea otters and I never dreamed I would be able to see one in real life.

“The first time I saw any species of otter was in 1991 and I was in tears. I’ve been in love with the animals ever since I was young. I’ve got so many different otter items in my house, my husband, David, said around 20 years ago if I buy one more otter, he’s leaving me – we’re still together so I guess I called his bluff.

“Meeting Ozzy and Ola was genuinely a dream come true. I welled up when I first saw them. To come this close to these amazing creatures was remarkable, I even got to shake their paws.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
World's biggest otter fan Mary Heathcote meets Ozzy the Otter in BirminghamWorld's biggest otter fan Mary Heathcote meets Ozzy the Otter in Birmingham
World's biggest otter fan Mary Heathcote meets Ozzy the Otter in Birmingham | Sea Life Birmingham / SWNS

For the past 30 years Mary has worked tirelessly alongside wildlife academics to help with river surveys and further conservation of UK otters. She was invited as a guest of honour to visit Ozzy and Ola in recognition of her dedication to protecting the otter population.

Amy Langham, General Manager at Sea Life Birmingham, said: “It was incredible to witness Mary meeting our sea otters for the very first time. She’s dedicated her life to these animals so it’s amazing to be able to give her something she’s dreamt of for such a long time. Ozzy and Ola were rescued off the coast of Alaska a few years back before undergoing rehabilitation but unfortunately, they were deemed to be un-releasable.

"We were keen to give the playful pair a forever home, so we went through a gruelling guardianship application to be able to relocate them to Sea Life Birmingham in 2020 – where they became the UK’s very first and only sea otters. It’s no surprise Mary has never seen one in person, their natural habitat is coastal waters in Alaska and British Columbia, so it’s very rare to spot them.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.