Its kitchen now empty, the otter appeared to have moved on, city parks director Howard Normann told reporters.
“As of this morning, there’s still no sign of the otter,” Normann said. “We feel that Elvis has left the building.”
The standoff, which forced the garden to close for more than six days, captivated Vancouver and no small number of people who followed it, and the #Otterwatch2018 hashtag it spawned, online. Some saw the massacre as a metaphor for the gentrification taking place in the city’s Chinatown — and the dominant “Team Otter” cheering as culturally insensitive. Others viewed the otter’s urban fishing expedition as the rightful prize for a native species that is losing habitat and simply views a fish as a fish.
Normann said park staff placed cameras near the pond to monitor whether the otter reappeared. The koi, he said, probably would not be returned until spring. In the meantime, park staff are fortifying a gate between the garden and an adjacent public park in hopes of otter-proofing it, garden spokeswoman Deanna Chan said.
The large bounty of juvenile koi that were rescued was “surprising,” Normann told reporters. But the survivors did not include Madonna, an adult with a curved spine who was more than 50 years old, Chan said, adding that garden staff identified her remains.
The park reopened Thursday, fish- and otter-free. Across town at the Vancouver Aquarium, the evacuated koi were “settling in just swimmingly,” the aquarium said on Twitter.