fb-pixel Skip to main content

These beavers don’t get along — that’s for dam sure. But their antics have made them social media stars.

‘Everyone’s losing their minds over Nibi.’

Beavers Ziibi and Nibi at the Newhouse Wildlife Rescue.Newhouse Wildlife Rescue

Their relationship got off to a bumpy start.

An only child for some time, Nibi had grown used to the constant attention of her loving family. She had a room to herself to play, and a backyard to roam freely. She didn’t have to share toys and stuffed animals with anyone. Her favorite ripened avocados never ran out. In essence, she was spoiled.

Then Ziibi arrived. Their adopted parents waited with bated breath: Would the two get along? Would Nibi take her new companion under her wing as they’d hoped?

For these two beavers, things didn’t exactly go swimmingly.

From the beginning, Ziibi wouldn’t leave Nibi alone. The younger of the two, she was always trying to tag along, jostling among the fall leaves by Nibi’s side or snuggling close to her cage. But Nibi finally reached a breaking point last month. So she rubbed her paws together and hatched a plan.

While Ziibi splashed around in the semiaquatic enclosure outside at Newhouse Wildlife Rescue in Chelmsford, Nibi scuttled along the floor, retrieving stick after stick, before dropping them at the door to their enclosure. When done with her makeshift dam, she looked back at the barrier and hopped away almost gleefully.

Advertisement



The strange affair was caught on film by employees at the nonprofit’s facility last month and later shared on social media. The footage racked up hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook, and just as many views on Twitter, turning the beavers into online sensations overnight.

People jokingly likened Nibi’s determination to keep Ziibi out of their shared space to the sort of behavior demonstrated between rival siblings or hostile roommates.

Jane Newhouse, who runs the wildlife rehabilitation center, said her phone has been ringing off the hook since the video went up. In recent days, she’s fielded dozen of calls from media outlets across the world, including CNN and a station in Germany. Even biologists have reached out to the sanctuary inquiring about Nibi’s excited hops after putting together the dam, a behavior experts say is uncommon.

Advertisement



“Everyone’s losing their minds over Nibi. It’s hilarious,” Newhouse said. “And Nibi’s only care in the world is getting Ziibi away from her. She has no idea that she’s this sensation all over the world right now.”

Though the interactions between the two beavers — the shy and sweet Ziibi, and the fiery and tenacious Nibi — are humorous to watch, they also underscore the important work being done by staff at the rehab facility, she said.

Newhouse said caring for baby beavers is a two-year commitment, before they can be released back into the wild. Because the species is territorial and family-oriented — and prone to depression spells when isolated — their chances of surviving on their own are far more likely when they’re able to bond with another beaver before they’re set free.

Both of the waddling rodents are roughly five months old and have now spent a month getting to know each other.

Nibi was rescued by the facility when she was around two weeks old. She was found walking along a road in Sturbridge in the aftermath of a downpour, Newhouse said. Multiple attempts to reunite her with a beaver dam nearby were unsuccessful. Nibi had been by herself until Ziibi arrived from a wildlife center in Rhode Island.

Advertisement



The clock to bond the pair successfully is ticking.

The facility, which has four staff members, typically cares for 50 to 60 injured or orphaned animals at a time, specializing in smaller mammals like possums, raccoons, and squirrels, Newhouse said.

But right now, about five to six hours each day is dedicated solely to cleaning, feeding, and caring for Nibi and Ziibi.

“The situation has gotten better whereas Nibi is not constantly trying to attack [Ziibi], but it’s still rocky between them. We’re giving it as much of an effort as we can,” she said. “We can laugh about it, but it is also a serious thing. We have to get them to bond with other beavers. If not each other, then we have to look for more beavers.”

Like most children, Nibi and Ziibi can only play together under adult supervision, Newhouse said.

On a recent October day, the beavers got into a game of cat and mouse around the semiaquatic enclosure. With her eyes trained on Ziibi, Nibi stalked and then sprinted after her across the leaves. But this time it was Ziibi who came out on top. Nibi slipped and fell into the murky water below.

“Karma for Nibi,” Newhouse Wildlife Rescue wrote on Instagram.



Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.