We've Got Answers!
We know that you’ve got questions and sometimes the easiest thing to do is to check out the FAQ. Here we have complied some of our most frequently asked questions. Feel free to read through them, perhaps the answer you seek is here. If not, feel free to drop us a line. We promise to get right back to you, after we are done taking care of our animal ambassadors.
In the meantime, check out our Photo Gallery. You never know who you may see smiling for the cameras.
As we get ready to launch the 2021 Otter Swim Reservation calendar after a year of COVID chaos, we have had to adjust our cancellation policy to try to make the process as fair as possible but still allow us to sustain our business. What we mean by that is we want it to be fair for our guests, but it is also important to understand that we have animals to feed, employees to compensate, and utilities, insurances, and mortgages to pay. We understand that in years past, getting a reservation has proven to be somewhat challenging for a lot of folks and therefore we have seen quite a bit of double booking with the intention of cancelling one date. This unfortunately is not fair to other people trying to book dates and makes the process a lot more challenging. Our hope is that with advanced notice of our change in policy, our guests can plan accordingly and not have to worry about it impacting their visit.
Our new cancellation policy will be enforced as follows starting on January 1, 2021.
- If Nurtured by Nature/Animal Educators receives 30 days or more advance notice of cancellation, that will allow for a full refund of program fees (taking into account the multiple booking cancellation fee mentioned in item #4).
- If less than 30 days advance notice of cancellation is received, then the reservation will be non-refundable.
- Reservations can be transferred to another name at any time.
- In an effort to be as fair as possible, and because we have had challenges with people abusing our previous cancellation policy, if multiple dates are booked for the same guests in a calendar year, and they need to cancel any of those reservations, then there will be a $100/person cancellation fee regardless of the amount of notice given. This cancellation fee only applies to people who book multiple reservations in the same year.
- The FareHarbor booking fee is not refundable.
- This refund policy applies only to the regular Public Otter Swim Encounters. Conservation Otter Swim Encounter donations are considered a donation, not a program fee. Donations are non-refundable. Requests to reschedule Conservation programs must be received at least 30 days in advance otherwise we cannot accommodate that request.
- If the forecast is for inclement weather, we will still continue with encounters unless there is extremely bad weather, in which case we will contact you the day before the program to refund or reschedule.
- Processing of refunds can take up to 30 days, depending on how long it takes your financial institution to credit your account, but generally it takes a couple of weeks or less.
- Nurtured by Nature/Animal Educators reserves the right to determine reschedule or refund in the event that WE need to cancel a program.
All Asian Small Clawed Otters that participate in our encounters are born and raised at our facility from captive born parents that came from two different zoos (2 from Europe and 2 from North America).
1. Some of our other animals are also born here as part of a conservation breeding program.
2. Some of our animals are surplus from other zoos, which means that they had more of one species than they needed.
3. Some of our animals are rescues (less than perfect animals from breeders, animals from research facilities, or confiscated animals from different State Departments).
Regardless of how the animals came to be here, we make great efforts to make sure that they are all well cared for both physically and emotionally! We are a USDA and California Fish and Wildlife permitted and inspected facility and are in excellent standing with both of these governing organizations. We work closely with two veterinarians and rely on the 30+ years of professional exotic animal experience of our president as well as our 25 volunteers who come from the veterinary as well as the zoological world.
Asian Small Clawed Otters DO NOT Make Good Pets
As cute and charismatic as otters are, Nurtured by Nature wants you to understand that otters, as well as most species of exotic animals, make terrible pets and are best kept in zoos and/or the wild. A short list of reasons why Asian Small Clawed Otters do NOT make good pets is as follows:
- Keeping otters and exotic animals is a full time job not to be taken lightly. Asian Small Clawed Otters (ASCOs) are extremely intelligent and social and should never be kept alone.
- ASCOs have a very fast metabolism and urinate and defecate all at the same time, something called sprainting, which they immediately smear around to mark their territory.
- They are emotional animals and need lots of stimulation in the way of activities and exercise. A very important chore at Nurtured by Nature is keeping their toys and enrichment fresh and new.
- They have short tempers and most people, including zookeepers, learn very quickly that you do no want to cross a romp, which is what a group of ASCOs is called.
Nurtured by Nature/Animal Educators never withhold food to make an otter do something (like tricks or to go to the pool). All swims are voluntary and initiated by the otters. A hungry otter is an aggressive otter!
Visiting Nurtured by Nature is by RESERVATION ONLY. Currently, we only have the one inclusive otter swim encounter that includes interacting with the other animals as well as the otters. Right now we do not have an encounter without the otters.
We generally keep the water temperature between 90-93 degrees and pool time usually lasts between 35 minutes to an hour, depending on how long the otters want to swim.
All of our programs are voluntary for the otters and if we do too many swim encounters then the otters no longer enjoy it and it can become an undesirable situation. Your safety and our otters’ welfare are our two top priorities and this is why we limit the number of interactions. The schedule is based on that and making sure that we keep availability for the Make-A-Wish kids as well. Because of the limited space, we are unable to fit extra people in if reservations are full.
We have not determined when we will be opening up next year’s dates but will post any new developments on Facebook as they happen. The waiting list was for the Otterz Only Playland, but has become so full that we are discontinuing the waiting list.
We no longer allow guests under the age of 18 years for our NON-Make-A-Wish otter swim encounters. Younger participants often have shorter attention spans, much higher energy levels, and sometimes have trouble following safety instructions. It is for this reason that we have increased the age limit, which is based on actual and repeated experience. As much as we hate placing limits, our most important priority is keeping people and animals safe.
Social media and word of mouth have been extremely helpful in making people aware of Nurtured by Nature. As a result, all public and private programs for a year are now full but we most likely will see cancellations. We recommend that you check the online calendar often so that if someone does cancel, you can book the spot at that time. The calendar will not give you access unless a cancellation has occurred and that date is still available. Cancellations generally fill up within minutes of showing available. Because of this we no longer offer gift certificates.
The Otter Encounters at Nurtured by Nature were created to bring joy to children in need through interaction with animals. In an effort to help support the operating expenses associated with these programs, we do offer public and private donor programs on a limited basis by reservation only.
We have worked diligently to establish modified interactions to ensure a safe and healthy guest experience. These measures are based on guidance from health authorities, including veterinary advice, the CDC, along with requirements of the state of California and San Diego County. Please follow all posted instructions while visiting Nurtured by Nature/Animal Educators.
Even with these modified measures in place, an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present, and we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the CDC, older adults and guests of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. Guests should evaluate their risk in determining whether to visit.
By visiting Nurtured by Nature/Animal Educators, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
What To Expect When You Visit
While it’s encouraging to see COVID-19 restrictions lifting, we can’t completely let our guard down yet. We will continue to enforce certain protocols to keep animals and guests safe. We want to be transparent which means we have created the following list that explains the changes we have made. This will give folks who feel like they would prefer not to visit under these conditions enough advanced notice to cancel within the posted cancellation timeline if they wish. Please understand that we are making the choices that we feel are BEST for the people AND the animals.
1. We ask anyone who is not feeling well, or are experiencing possible COVID19 symptoms, to notify us of your situation in advance and PLEASE stay home. During COVID19 modified encounters, and with notification and a doctor’s note, we will be happy to refund you even if notification is received less than 30 days in advance of your reserved date (however if you are able to give us that advance notice, we would greatly appreciate it).
2. As of November 10, 2022 we have updated our Covid policy and will no longer be checking vaccination status. We will continue to require masks for specific animals, and the snorkel masks while in the pool with the otters, for the protection of guests, staff, AND otters. The Covid situation is fluid and ever changing, so this policy will be in effect until further notice. Our staff is fully vaccinated.
3. Because the otters are so incredibly tactile, paper and fabric masks will not be sufficient when in the pool with the otters. We have determined that the safest, most protective way to interact with the otters in the pool will be for guests and staff to wear a full-face snorkel mask (provided by us). The masks will be sanitized between guests using a bleach/water solution. These masks will maintain a safe barrier between otters and guests’ eyes, nose, and mouth. Eyeglasses do not generally fit under the masks, so please be prepared to either wear contacts or no glasses for this portion of the program. We understand that this may not be ideal for everyone, but it will be important in our efforts to reduce the chances of transmission of COVID19 to the otters as well as people. We do know that some otters at other facilities have contracted COVID19 and, even though it is not yet known the full effects of the virus on exotic animals, we want to do everything in our power to keep everyone as safe as possible.
If you are claustrophobic or feel that you will not be able to wear this mask during your visit, please contact us before 30 days of your reservation to cancel your visit. This will allow us to fully refund you per our posted cancellation policy.
4. Handwashing breaks will be built into the day’s schedule and hand sanitizer will be available in-between enclosures.
5. We have switched to a digital facility waiver that will need to be submitted online before visiting Nurtured by Nature/Animal Educators. This waiver will be emailed/texted to reservation holders the week before their scheduled visit and a completed form must be received for each guest before beginning their encounter.
6. Before the COVID19 modifications we provided light refreshments to guests during break times. We will not be providing these refreshments while operating under the modified format, however, you are welcome to bring your own snacks and we strongly recommend that you bring water to keep hydrated.
7. It will be important for guests to read, understand, and agree to all of the above requirements/changes before visiting Nurtured by Nature/Animal Educators. If you are unable, or unwilling, to abide by these precautions, please notify us at least 30 days before your reserved date to cancel so that we can provide a full refund.