VANCOUVER — Koi are safe to swim again in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver that was once a hunting ground for an elusive otter.

Three adults and 344 juvenile ornamental koi were removed from the pond and kept at the Vancouver Aquarium last November after the otter began feasting on the expensive koi.

It even killed a 50-year-old fish named Madonna, before it disappeared again, despite numerous attempts by staff to trap the animal.

The koi that were removed were returned to the pond on Thursday, along with two other adults that had been donated.

Vancouver Park Board chairman Stuart Mackinnon says the fate of the koi generated concern locally and internationally and he’s pleased to see the fish back in their home.

Mackinnon says the garden staff have added steel plates to the park gates, deterring any other otters from getting inside.

The garden closed for a week during the height of the otter’s destruction and the saga set off a storm on social media among those rooting for and against the otter.

Koi embody positive connotations for many Asian cultures, from good luck to abundance and perseverance, and a statement from the garden says the fish are often an important and symbolic part of classical Chinese gardens.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press