Thursday, July 30, 2020

Orphaned Otter Spreading Joy

Angela and Gary Cox with Steve the Otter

It’s an “otter-ly” wonderful life at one Sallisaw residence.

“Steve,” an orphaned otter is currently being rehabilitated by Gary and Angela Cox of Sallisaw and is quickly becoming a viral, social media sensation. The six-month-old otter is a rambunctious bundle of energy for the couple, but they say they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gary Cox, owner of the Sallisaw Veterinary Clinic, has been a veterinarian for 40 years and says rehabilitating wild animals is an important part of the couple’s lives and it gives animals a chance at a normal life in the wild. 

The Coxes said river otters are a lot like ferrets, but they love spending time in the water and are “always playing.” 

Watching Steve run around the couple’s rural home you can’t tell he is a wild animal. He has made himself right at home with the Coxes, and they have fallen in love with him. When he curls up on Gary's lap he looks like he was meant to be there.

Angela has been posting about Steve on Facebook and her adventures bring more than a few laughs, which she says is the point of it all. “If I can just entertain people and get their minds off what’s going on in this world, then I have succeeded,” she said. “I think God brought Steve into our lives to help us spread joy,” she added. “When you do good things, good things will happen,” she said.

Hundreds of people, and the number is growing daily, are following Steve's antics and when you read their comments it is clear how much joy he is bringing to people of all ages. Many have commented that Steve is a bright spot in their day-to-day lives that they look forward to.

Daily videos and photos posted by Angela show Steve playing in the creek, learning to fish, snuggling (or biting) Gary and also interacting with the couple's Great Danes, including 189 pound Stark.

To follow Steve’s adventures with the Coxes, visit and follow Angela Polasek-Cox’s Facebook page. Her followers come from Las Vegas, New York City and even as far away as Scotland. 

Baby otters, which are called pups, normally stay with their mothers for at least six months, or until the matriarch has another litter. Unfortunately for Steve, his mother was hit by a car. He was taken to another wildlife rehabilitator in Poteau, then was sent to the Cox home.

The Coxes take Steve to a creek near their home every day so he can practice swimming and just be an otter. “He used to follow me to the creek (when he was little) but now he leads me to it,” Gary Cox said. Back at the Cox home, the little otter has a kiddie wading pool and even a “hot tub” to play in. The couple catch fish in the creek to feed Steve every day. 

The Coxes have been rehabilitating animals for years and they have taken care of all kinds, including bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, owls, skunks, possums, alligaters, deer, bears and more, Gary Cox said.

While visiting with the Coxes and Steve, a small fawn that is also being rehabbed wandered onto the deck and was immediately greeted by Steve.

When asked what will happen when Steve is ready to return to the wild, Gary Cox said, “He can get in the creek (near their property) any time if he wants to leave,” but Steve looks pretty happy right where he is.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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