Two orphaned otters named Dee and Don by rescuers are getting closer to a return into the wild.
The pair of pups were taken in by the New Arc Sanctuary, near Ellon, last year after their parents and sibling were found dead near an old sawmill in Alford.
The brother and sister, then believed to be around nine weeks old, were wandering about by themselves.
Since then, the pair have been growing stronger and are ready to go into their new pen – which will help prepare them for release.
New Arc owners, Keith and Pauline Marley have been caring for the hungry duo.
Mr Marley said: “They are eating about 4kg of fish every day at the moment. I’m hoping to get them into their next pen soon which will prepare them for the wild – we will be very much ‘hands off’ then.
“Dee and Don are in no way tame, but do get very excited if they know food is coming.”
The Marleys started the sanctuary by “accident” after hearing a vet talking about putting down a sick animal.
The couple’s 10-acre site outside Ellon now houses an average 350 creatures at any one time. But due to the nature of wild animals, they need separate pens to help facilitate their release back into the wild.
They are currently drawing up plans for a specialised wildlife hospital and are nearing their fundraising target of £30,000.
Mr Marley explained: “There isn’t really anywhere like that at the moment in Scotland, with on-site veterinary treatment.
“We rely heavily on vet visits just now, but it’s not ideal sitting in a waiting room next to cats and dogs with a baby deer in your arms.
“We are just at the start of our busy time of the year – it can be quite frantic. We are as quiet as it gets just now with around 250 animals, but that could double really quickly.”
Other notable residents include Gary the red squirrel who is being released soon after spending six months being reared to full strength and Scooter the roe deer who is also preparing for release.
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