Otter pup loose in Chelmsford 'could die', wildlife officers warn
Concerns have been raised for the welfare of an otter pup spotted wandering around a street in Essex.
Essex Wildlife Trust was alerted after the pup was seen close to The Meadows shopping centre in Chelmsford at about 13:00 BST on Thursday.
The trust's Darren Tansley said he had no idea how the otter, thought to be about two months old, came to be there.
"We need to find it as it will not survive more than about 48 hours without its mother, or help," he said.
Laura Lee, who spotted the otter while having her lunch near the River Chelmer, took a photograph of it which she sent to the Wildlife Trust.
'Reliant on mum'
She said she thought it might be a mink.
"It was really quite friendly and didn't seem to mind a group of people staring at it," she said.
However, Mr Tansley, the trust's water for wildlife officer and an otter specialist, instantly recognised it as a very young otter.
"The Chelmer is a very good river for otters, but you would not expect to see them right in the city. The banks are very built-up as flood defences and I can't think how it got here," he said.
"It is very, very unusual to find an otter in an urban environment like this.
"It's really small and certainly not long out of its holt. The pup would still be suckling and completely reliant on its mother."
He added: "The chances are, it will not survive more than 48 hours."
The trust has urged anyone who sees the otter to get in touch.
If the otter pup is found, Mr Tansley said it would have to be raised in captivity and released into the wild once old enough to fend for itself.