This delightful article was written by Melanie Gosling and  published in the Cape Times on Friday 11 Jan 2013.  Photos were supplied by Pat Stacey, retired Harbour Master of Kalk Bay Harbour. Permission has been granted for the re-publishing of both the article and photographs. My thanks to all parties involved.


A Cape Clawless Otter visits Cape to Cuba restaurant in Kalk Bay Jan 2013. Photo by Pat StaceyAn otter appears to have got lost after a night of foraging along the False Bay coast and ducked into a Kalk Bay restaurant to hole up for the day.

It did not make much effort to keep a low profile.

First mistake: he walked in through the front door. Second mistake: he strolled across the feet of the cocktail waitress. Third mistake: he hid under a cupboard, but left his long tail sticking out.

Penny Kleynhans, manager of the restaurant which is separated from the beach only by the railway line, said yesterday they had spotted the creature in the morning before opening up to the public.

A Cape Clawless Otter visits Cape to Cuba restaurant in Kalk Bay Jan 2013. Photo by Pat Stacey“It came in the front door. I saw it but didn’t know what it was. I got such a fright I jumped up on a chair. Then it disappeared.”

Later the woman at the service bar was chopping fruit for cocktails and it ran across her feet. “I just heard this highpitched call ‘Penneeee!’ She didn’t know what it was,” Kleynhans said.

Around lunchtime retired Kalk Bay harbour master Pat Stacey got a call from the restaurant owner.

“He said he had an otter behind a cupboard. I asked if he was sure and he said: ‘Yes, I can see this huge tail sticking out,’ so I went to look and there it was.”

Catching hiding otters was not something Stacey had much experience in, but he knew the creatures could be dangerous when cornered and scared.

A Cape Clawless Otter visits Cape to Cuba restaurant in Kalk Bay Jan 2013. Photo by Pat Stacey“I got them to clear all the patrons to one side of the restaurant.

“Then the owner’s wife came and said: ‘Put all tables and chairs back. This is bad for business.’ I said it was cornered and dangerous but she didn’t seem to take that in. So I put a broom under the cupboard where it was and it bit a chunk out of it. That showed them it could bite,” Stacey said.

He then called Gareth Petterson of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA for help.

“It was a fully grown adult and it was scared. We managed to get a net over him while he was under the cupboard – with great difficulty – then it took Pat, me and a waiter, three of us, to pull it out. It is a strong, strong animal.

“The cupboard it was under was attached to the wall, so we couldn’t move it, but the otter managed to detach it,” Petterson said.

Once they had it caged, Petterson took it to Glencairn wetlands to release it.

He believes it is one of the adult pair that live there. Last year the pair had two young.

Asked why he thought the otter had gone into the restaurant in the first place, Petterson replied: “Cocktails.”

Cape Times

 Ed’s comment:

Otter investigating our room in Malawi. Photo VivI met an otter with similar chutzpah in Malawi about thirty years ago! While travelling around the “warm heart of Africa” with a friend, we slept over in a rondawel at “The Grand Beach Hotel” on the shores of Lake Malawi.

It was while we were sitting on the step of our hut having a sundowner and playing cards that our otter made its unexpected foray into our room… Appearing out of nowhere he nonchalantly walked past me, did two circuits of the room, ferreting down to the bottom of our beds under the bedding each time and, finding nothing of otterly interest, departed as nonchalantly and with as much dignity as when he arrived. My photos are not great – they are old, pre-digital and were taken in great haste and in a flurry of excitement, but they tell the story.

Otter investigating our room in Malawi. Photo VivSandy little paw marks on our sheets did not lend comfort to our sleep but the awesomeness of the visit canceled out the discomfort!

There are two otter species found in Malawi: the spotted neck otter and the Cape clawless otter. Judging from pictures on the internet I would say that “our” otter was also a Cape clawless otter.

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