Otter attack leaves man with more than 20 wounds, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Otter attack leaves man with more than 20 wounds

This article is more than 12 months old

He was bitten in legs, buttocks and finger by otters at Botanic Gardens while on routine morning walk

A man's visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens ended with a trip to the hospital, after a group of otters bit him in the legs, buttocks and finger.

The attack on Nov 30 left Mr Graham George Spencer with more than 20 wounds, with some requiring stitches.

It is not the first time that otters have attacked people here but animal welfare groups said the animals are not typically aggressive and their actions could have been triggered by their perception that they were threatened.

Recounting the Nov 30 experience to The Straits Times yesterday, Mr Spencer, a Singapore permanent resident, said: "I actually thought I was going to die - they were going to kill me."

The maid agency owner, who is British and in his 60s, said he was attacked at about 6.40am. He was at the end of a routine morning walk with a friend and was approaching the Singapore Botanic Gardens' entrance near Taman Serasi.

He spotted about 20 otters crossing a dimly lit path about 4m in front of him. This was the first time he had seen otters in the park since he started his morning walks five months ago.


The animals were moving quietly but "went crazy" after another man ran towards them. They tried to bite the runner, who avoided their attacks and moved past Mr Spencer.

"All of a sudden, they must have thought I was (the runner)," said Mr Spencer.

The otters targeted him, with some biting his ankles and causing him to fall face down. They zoomed in on his legs and buttocks, with one otter biting his finger.

His friend shouted at the animals, which stopped their action momentarily.

The duo ran towards a nearby visitor centre with the otters giving chase for a short distance.

The centre was unattended when they arrived, with the guard manning it apparently returning from a break after about 10 minutes. The guard provided bandages, with other park staff subsequently attending to Mr Spencer.

Declining an offer to be taken to a hospital, he headed to the nearby Gleneagles Hospital with his friend.

He was given tetanus shots and oral antibiotics and had some wounds stitched up, before being discharged on the same day.

He has returned to the hospital three times to treat his wounds and has spent about $1,200 in medical bills.

Mr Spencer said he wants measures to be imposed to prevent a similar attack.

He had earlier made plans to celebrate Christmas with his family in Britain but is uncertain whether he is well enough to travel.

Dr Tan Puay Yok, group director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, told The Straits Times that the National Parks Board, which manages the Gardens, is in contact with the victim.

He added that otter bites in the Gardens and other parks are rare.

"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," he said.