A call for artists around the world to create otter art and help stop the illegal otter pet trade in Southeast Asia

It is seriously concerning that otters are being traded in the illegal pet trade across Southeast Asia, and in Japan in particular. The predominant online content available these days, shows “cute” pet otters in unnatural environments, doing “cute” things, enticing more people to procure otters for themselves as pets. Most of us are unaware of the stress and problems faced by these charismatic wild animals, once caught and brought into the pet trade and there is limited information online in this regard. Read more about it in the Otter facts document below.

  • 2016Surge in online pet trade

    2016 seems to be a breakoff year for pet otter online searches. In many countries across the world, the demand for them seems to have surged with people openly selling otters, especially on Facebook.
  • 2017Otter seizures

    As compared to 2007, seizures of live otters increased sixteen times to 32, mostly at airports. This could indicate improved surveillance capabilities, but also an increase in the international illegal otter trade.
  • 2018The Otter Cafe phenomenon

    The number of Otter cafes in Japan cross 10 in number, at an alarming rate. (Just a simple Google maps search will show you the locations of more than 7 in Japan itself).
  • 2019Uplifting 3 species in CITES

    An effort is ongoing to raise the status of Smooth-coated otter, Small-clawed otter and the Hairy-nosed otter to Appendix I (the most protected internationally) in CITES.

What are the aims of the project?

‘The Otter Collective’ project main goal is to counter the current online “craze for pet otters” content with online otter art, so that people have more options to appreciate these wonderful animals and learn more about them. When searching online to buy a pet otter, using terms like “buy otter”, “pet otter” or “otter price” may lead you here, where you should read and become aware of what’s going on.

We are all aware of how art provides a clever platform to reveal worldly ecological issues to the masses, which is the essence of this project - combining art and information to expose the true side of illegal otter pet trade as well as to showcase the species as a Wild Animal that requires to remain wild.

How can you help?

‘The Otter Collective’ concept is very simple: To join our effort, create a piece of art that can be shared on social media (Facebook and Instagram), something that will influence people’s perceptions, ideas and compassion. You could use our list of facts, your sense of humor and artistic freedom and of course – the charisma of otter species from around the world. You get to do something for a good cause, become a part of a collective of artists working on an exceptional project, and we promote you and give you publicity as an artist in return.

To inspire you, a link to our FB page, where you will find photos, drawings and videos. We are on Instagram too. Your art, if you wish to contribute, would be uploaded to both these accounts. You can begin by creating a single piece or sets of 3 images (or 6, or 9, etc.) following the Instagram format, so as to create a visual effect. Alternatively, do as you wish, and let us know how you would like them to be uploaded.

For further information about the illegal otter pet trade please view the Otter Facts document (available in English and Japanese). We also have a useful Hashtags list you can include in the art itself or online while posting.

To join The Otter Collective, send an email to: ottercollective [at] wildotters [dot] com.

For credit and copyright, we currently suggest this model:

1. Send us an email saying you want to join. We’ll send you all information needed and our Artwork Release form to sign and send back to us.

2. Create your art, sign it and send it to us via email (or WeTransfer) in png or jpg high resolution and quality format. Tell us how you wish for us to upload it, and attach the links to the accounts you would like us to credit so we can connect to them.

3. When we share your art on FB and Instagram, we will credit you by your name/user name/official page. We'll tag you on our posts so people can reach you on social media.

4. You can add your work to your portfolio or any other online assets you have, and of course share it on your social media accounts, and if you do - we’ll appreciate a link to our “The Otter Collective” Instagram and FB page.

5. If we print your art for educational/promotional/commercial purposes it will include your signature on the art work. You’re welcome to use your art in any way you wish to do so, if we use your art commercially all funds raised will be used for research, conservation and educational purposes (as mentioned in the ‘Artwork Release form’).

6. All contributing artists are requested to kindly go through this disclaimer.

Further resources :


Frequently Asked Questions

1Is this open internationally?
Yes. This is an international initiative.
2Do I have to pay to participate?
Not at all.
3I am not an artist. Is there a way to help out?
Any form of media is welcome, you could try making a video, animation, audio, clay model, a comic strip, a short story or anything new! We are alongside working on creating more ways to involve everyone. Keep a lookout on this page, we will announce as soon as we add avenues towards those ends.
4I'm not a fan of otters. Any other animals you are working to protect?
Thats a fair point. We currently have begun this journey with otters, but there are definitely a plethora of species there that need help. We will design species specific modules to have maximum impact. Till then, read up a bit more about otters here, we are sure you'll fall in love with them :).
5I'd like to join this initiative. What should I do?
Drop in email to ottercollective AT wildotters.com, and we'll take the conversation up from there!

Shwetha Srikanth

Prerana Bharadwaj

Lucy Liew

Sharon Barcs

Rachel Hudson

Suzy Sharpe

Camille Coudrat

Hariti Ganesh

Nikitha Srinivas

Melissa Nettleship

Kallol Mazumdar

Kristen MacQuarrie

Ori Toor

Dani Liu

Hrishikesh Belgudri

Orah Lemer