The Giant Otter is an amphibious, mammalian carnivore native to South
America. About the length of an adult human being, it is the longest member
of the mustelidae, or weasel family, a globally successful group of
predators. Unusually for a mustelid, the Giant Otter is a social species,
with family groups typically supporting three to eight members. The groups
are centred around a dominant breeding pair and are extremely cohesive and
cooperative. Although generally peaceful, the species is territorial and
aggression has been observed between groups. The Giant Otter is exclusively
active during daylight hours. It is the noisiest otter species and distinct
vocalizations have been documented that indicate alarm, aggressiveness, and
reassurance. The Giant Otter ranges across north-central South America,
although its distribution has been greatly reduced and is now discontinuous.
The species was listed as endangered in 1999 and population estimates are
typically below 5,000 in the wild. The Guianas are the last real stronghold
for the species. Decades of poaching for its velvety pelt, peaking in the
1950s and 1960s, decimated population numbers. Habitat degradation and loss
is the greatest current threat. The Giant Otter is also rare in captivity:
as of 2003, only 60 animals were held. The Giant Otter largely subsists on a
diet of fish, particularly characins and catfish, and may also take crabs.
It has no serious natural predators, although it must compete with other
species, including the Neotropical Otter and caiman species, for food
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Today's selected anniversaries:
The Cathedral of Chartres in Chartres, France was dedicated in the presence
of King Louis IX.
The second treaty of the Peace of Westphalia, the Treaty of Münster, was
signed, ending both the Thirty Years' War and the Dutch Revolt, and
officially recognizing the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and
Swiss Confederation as independent states.
Sheffield F.C., one of the world's oldest documented non-university football
clubs, was founded.
First Balkan War: Serbian forces defeated the Ottoman army at the Battle of
Kumanovo in Vardar Macedonia.
The UN Charter, the constitution of the United Nations, entered into force
after being ratified by the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the
United Kingdom, the United States, and a majority of the other signatories.
Wiktionary's word of the day:
imperious: (adj) 1. Domineering, arrogant, or overbearing.
2. (obsolete) Imperial or regal.
Wikiquote quote of the day:
Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it