THE dreams of a self-professed ‘otter-holic’ came came true when she met the UK’s only sea otters, Ozzy and Ola, at Sea Life Birmingham.

Mary Heathcote, 70, from Wraxall, has had an over 60-year love of the adorable animals.

She has worked alongside wildlife academics on river surveys and otter conservation in the UK.

She has seen the UK otter population go from endangered to thriving - to the extent there are now otters in most counties.

But being otterly obsessed doesn’t stop there - her home is filled with more than 500 pieces of otter memorabilia, from kitchenalia, jewellery, clothing and ornaments to a six-foot statue in her garden.

Mary has travelled the world in search of otters, visiting the Isle of Mull in Scotland three times a year, a hotspot for thriving otter communities.

However, it has been a long-held dream to meet sea otters and Sea Life Birmingham has obliged.

During her visit, Mary came face to fin with fish and penguins before arriving at the otter enclosure to meet Ozzy and Ola.

She was able to feed them and even shook paws with them.

Mary said: "It’s like all my Christmases and birthdays have come at once.

"I’ve been all over the world to look for sea otters and I never dreamed I would be able to see one in real life.

“The first time I saw any species of otter was in 1991 and I was in tears.

"I’ve been in love with the animals ever since I was young.

"I’ve got so many different otter items in my house. My husband, David, said around 20 years ago if I buy one more otter, he’s leaving me – we’re still together so I guess I called his bluff.

“Meeting Ozzy and Ola was genuinely a dream come true. I welled up when I first saw them. To come this close to these amazing creatures was remarkable, I even got to shake their paws.”

Amy Langham, Sea Life Birmingham general manager, said: “Mary's dedicated her life to these animals, so it’s amazing to be able to give her something she’s dreamt of for such a long time.

“Ozzy and Ola were rescued off the coast of Alaska a few years back before undergoing rehabilitation, but unfortunately they were deemed to be un-releasable.

"We were keen to give the playful pair a forever home, so we went through a gruelling guardianship application to be able to relocate them to Sea Life Birmingham in 2020, where they became the UK’s very first and only sea otters."