01/08/2015 09:02 EST | Updated 03/10/2015 05:59 EDT

Ecomuseum Zoo saddened by the loss of Happy the otter

Workers at the Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue say they are deeply touched by the outpouring of sympathy they are receiving this week after the death of Happy the otter.

David Rodrigue, the zoo’s executive director, says he’s been flooded with words of sympathy from Montrealers since the female otter died over the weekend.

“I think people feel for the loss. It’s hard for all the staff when one goes — and especially one that’s been with us for 17 years. It’s just very encouraging to see people supporting us like that,” Rodrigue said.

“It’s certainly a sad moment for everyone here — everyone involved with the organization and the general public as well.

The otter, which had been at the Ecomuseum since its birth in 1998, died of old age.

“She lived a very long time, as far as otters go...In the wild they have a much shorter lifespan than that, averaging 10-13 years,” Rodrigue said.

Happy lived at the zoo with a male otter, which died last year.

Rodrigue told CBC that Happy made many Montrealers smile.

“All you needed was a group of kids or adults and she never missed an opportunity to put on a show.”