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Koi evacuated as search for Chinatown otter continues; fate of old, rare fish Madonna uncertain

Last Updated Nov 25, 2018 at 6:37 pm PDT

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden staff attempt to rescue valuable koi from the pond to prevent them being eaten by an otter. (Source: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Twitter)

At least one koi has been evacuated from the pond at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver's Chinatown

A specialist was hired to capture the otter who infiltrated the pond and has been eating the rare fish

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –┬áIn the battle between otter and koi, it seems the slippery mammal is winning.

A specialist was hired to remove the otter eating valuable koi from the pond at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden but now the fish are being evacuated instead, and moved to the Vancouver Aquarium.

As of Sunday afternoon, the death toll has risen to 10. Garden staff captured one fish yesterday and relocated it. Three more are believed to still be alive.

The one captured was not Madonna, a fish that is more than 50 years old and has been with the garden for more than 20 years

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Debbie Cheung, communications for the garden, hopes she turns up.

“It was very difficult for us to tell. We know there are at least three koi still in the pond,” she says. “We can’t tell, with the remaining three, if one of them is her.”

Cheung said it was difficult to make the rescue because the water level is high and visibility is poor. Climbing into the pond stirs up the clay in the water, making it even more difficult to see.

The whole ordeal has been difficult for the Garden as the rare and valuable fish are picked off by the elusive river otter.

“We feel sad, but at the same time we don’t want to give up. We’re hopeful. So either we save more koi today, or the otter gets relocated.”

So far the otter has evaded captors.

“Not much luck. It’s still on the loose,” she says. “We’re still doing our best to try to save our remaining koi.”

Fundraiser to replenish the pond to be launched soon

Now the Garden is planning a fundraiser to help raise money to replace the depleted pond. They are expected to give more information on the initiative tomorrow.

Another group previously launched a button campaign with #TeamKoi and #TeamOtter buttons with net proceeds to be donated to replenishing the pond, but the Garden has said they prefer those fund be directed to wildlife preservation instead.