Graham George Spencer was hospitalized after a bizarre animal attack at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Nov. 30. The Singapore resident was attacked by over 20 otters and was bitten 26 times. Officials of the botanic gardens are still investigating the incident.
According to Spencer, the otter attack occurred around 6:40 a.m. Graham George Spencer was having a morning walk with a friend when he spied a group of otters crossing a path in the garden. This was the first time he saw the animals since he started walking the path five months prior.
Spencer said the animals appeared calm until a jogger ran through the group and they started to attack. The jogger was able to avoid the bizarre animal attack, but Spencer wasn’t so lucky. He believes that the otters spotted him and thought he was the jogger.
“I actually thought I was going to die – they were going to kill me,” said Graham George Spencer.
The British native said the group of otters ran towards him and started to attack him at his ankles. He ended up falling face-first into the ground before they started to bite his legs, butt, and finger. Spencer said that if it wasn’t for his friend, he might not have made it.
The friend, who had been walking behind Spencer, quickly ran up and yelled at the otters so Spencer could get away. The pair then ran towards a service station with the otters quickly following behind them. The man’s wounds were quickly treated by a Singapore Botanic Gardens security guard before he was walked over to the Gleneagles Hospital for additional treatment.
Spencer was given tetanus shots and oral antibiotics for his 26 otter bites. He also had to receive stitches. The Singapore resident said that he has had to return to the hospital three more times for additional treatments. In total, the otter attack cost him $1,200 in medical bills.
The British native told reporters that he now has trouble sleeping and sitting because of the wounds on his butt. He even canceled a holiday trip to the United Kingdom because of his injuries. Spencer wants to make sure others know about his story and don’t suffer the same otter attack that he did.
“I just want people to be aware that these otters are not little puppies that you can stroke, and you need to be really careful. If they run into you or you step onto them, they will attack you,” said Spencer.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens and National Parks Board, which manages the Botanic Gardens, released a statement, explaining that they are in contact with the victim and are working to prevent another attack.
They said, “The Singapore Botanic Gardens’ volunteers and staff monitor the movements of the otters and educate the public on the importance of observing them from a distance and not interacting with them.”
Officials want the public to know that while the attack on Graham George Spencer was horrific, otter attacks are extremely rare. According to experts, otters only attack when they feel like their pups are being threatened.
Mr. Bernard Seah, who is a member of the Otter Working Group and has been tracking the Singapore otters since 2012, was surprised that such a vicious attack took place. He said, “In my years of documenting otters’ behaviors, I have never heard of such an aggressive attack. Such attacks are not common and are likely to happen when the adult otters feel that the safety of their pups is threatened.”
Seah believes that Spencer was bitten by the “Zouk family,” which is one of the most human-tolerable otter groups on the island. It is believed that Singapore is home to 10 different families of otters and that there are 90 animals in total.
The otters were driven away by pollution in the 1970s, but since the city has been cleaning up in recent years, many forms of wildlife, including the otters, have come back to Singapore. The otters are known to drink from water fountains and can even be found in hospital lobbies.
Despite the otters coming back into the city, the National Parks Board issued a warning to residents and tourists to be careful when they see the creatures. They said, “DO NOT touch, chase or corner the otters. Observe them from a distance. Going too close to the otters may frighten them.”