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Maymont fans choose “Nola” as name for new female otter joining the Robins Nature Center

Three-year-old Nola joins nine-year-old Louis, who arrived at Maymont in 2017; both are rescued wild river otters from Louisiana, where they had been deemed nuisance crawfish predators by wildlife agencies.

Trevor Dickerson

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The voters have spoken: Maymont fans have chosen Nola as the name for the new female otter at The Robins Nature Center. Three-year-old Nola joins nine-year-old Louis, who arrived at Maymont in 2017; both are rescued wild river otters from Louisiana, where they had been deemed nuisance crawfish predators by wildlife agencies.

Nola will take turns in the otter habitat with Louis while she continues to acclimate to her new home. The two rescued otters help illustrate the importance of their species within a healthy James River ecosystem as part of the “Run of the River” experience at The Robins Nature Center, open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am – 5 pm. The facility was renovated and expanded in 2020 to showcase the diverse ecology of the Chesapeake Bay watershed with 30,000 gallons of aquaria filled with fish, amphibians and reptiles, plus a 34-foot climbing sculpture, interactive displays and recreation areas to explore.

Over 11,500 votes poured in via social media and email between March 1 – 8. Nola, short for New Orleans, LA, emerged as the clear favorite among the four names drawn from over 165 suggestions submitted through the Adopt an Animal program in February. Each of the names paid homage to the otter’s home state; the other contenders were Beignet, a favorite New Orleans pastry; Ana, which pairs with Louis to complete the state’s name; and Evangeline, a parish in central Louisiana. The competition was fierce during the weeklong voting window until Nola emerged as the winner with a resounding 1,300-vote lead.

The contest inspired a surge of support for the Adopt an Animal program, which helps fund the care for all the 300-plus animals at Maymont, including other rescued animals in the wildlife habitats and The Robins Nature Center, plus the domestic animals at Maymont Farm.

Admission to The Robins Nature Center is $8 for adults, $6 for children ages 3-16, and free for Maymont members, children age 2 and under, and anyone who participates in the Museums for All program who has an EBT/SNAP card. Free parking is available in the lot at 2201 Shields Lake Drive.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.