Otters in the bathtub: How a Montana zookeeper is living her dream

Allyson Dredla lives her childhood dream every day. She is surrounded by birds, badgers and bears, and has even raised river otters in her bath tub.

“That’s the life of a zoo keeper,” she said with a laugh. “You have to do what you have to do for these animals.” 

Dredla is the chief Wetlands Keeper at ZooMontana in Billings. She cares for the animals that call watery habitats home.

Construction at ZooMontana for the Foster Waterfowl Refuge

Courtesy Photo

The zoo is currently building a new exhibit named the Foster Waterfowl Refuge. First announced in October 2021 after receiving a $200,000 grant, the fly-in, fly-out habitat is designed to be an urban refuge for migrating waterfowl — like geese, ducks or any other aquatic bird species making their way through the state. 

Fly-in, fly-out habitats are designed as refueling stations within urban environments for migratory birds. Just as road trippers need to stop and refuel, so do birds.

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Billings is located along the central flyway, one of four migratory

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