Otter

Rescued Sea Otter Pups Find a Home

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Found alone in frigid Alaskan waters last winter, two Sea Otter pups rescued as infants have found a permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

Both pups were just a few weeks old when rescued – far too young to survive on their own. They were brought to Alaska SeaLife Center’s I.Sea.U where they each received 24-hour care.

The pups were deemed non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services because without their mothers, the pups never learned basic survival skills. Vancouver Aquarium was asked to provide a long-term home for the pups. Accompanied by animal care professionals, the pups departed Alaska last week for their new home in Vancouver.

The pups do not yet have names.  Fans can help select their names by voting here through November 16.

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Photo Credit:  Daniela Ruiz/Alaska SeaLife Center


“After being found without their mothers and unable to care for themselves, these animals have been given a second chance at life,” said Brian Sheehan, curator of marine mammals at Vancouver Aquarium. “The ongoing care for a Sea Otter takes a tremendous amount of resources, and that role will continue here as our marine mammal team helps them integrate into their new home.”

Now weighing a healthy 12 kilograms, the male Sea Otter pup has been maintaining a steady diet, eating about 2.5 kilograms daily of clams, capelin, and squid. At 10.9 kilograms, the female otter eats about 2.0 kilograms of the same seafood mix.

Sea Otters face a number of challenges in the wild. During its first six months a Sea Otter pup is highly dependent on its mother for food and, without her, is unable to survive. Much of the mother’s energy is dedicated to the pup and, as a result, her health may decline over the feeding period. Female Sea Otters give birth every year so if she determines that she has a better chance of rearing a pup the following year, due to environmental factors or availability of prey, then she may abandon the pup before it’s weaned. In adult life, Sea Otters continue to face numerous threats including disease, oil spills, predation, interactions with fisheries and overharvest.

Ninety per cent of the world’s Sea Otters live in Alaska’s coastal waters. Within the state of Alaska, the Southeast and Southcentral stocks are stable or are continuing to increase. The Southwestern stock is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after experiencing a sharp population decline over the last two decades, attributed to an increase in predation from transient Killer Whales.

 


Chester Zoo’s Otter Pups Learn to Swim

1_Chester Zoo’s cute new otter pups given their first swimming lessons by mum Annie and dad Wallace (35) (1)

Five baby Otters have been thrown in at the deep end, while being taught how to swim, by their parents at Chester Zoo.

Mum, Annie, and dad, Wallace, took their new pups for their first proper dip in the water. The new pups recently emerged from their den, with their parents, for the first time since the quintet was born July 8th.

The new litter of Asian Short-clawed Otters, which currently weigh between 450g and 612g, is made up of two boys and three girls; all yet to be named by their keepers. This is the first litter for two-year-old Annie and four-year-old Wallace.

Fiona Howe, assistant otter team manager at the zoo, said, “While Otters might seem like born naturals in the water, even they need to be taught the basics in the early stages of their lives.

“Asian Short-clawed Otters are a highly social species and learning to swim is a real family effort. Mum Annie and dad Wallace have both been working together and, now that they are confident that each of the pups are ready to start swimming, they’ve been taking them by the scruffs of their necks and dropping them in at the deep end. All five of them are getting to grips with the water really, really quickly.

“Annie and Wallace are first time parents but they’re doing a fab job, sharing with the daily care of the pups, including grooming, babysitting and feeding.”

2_Chester Zoo’s cute new otter pups given their first swimming lessons by mum Annie and dad Wallace (15) (1)

3_Chester Zoo’s cute new otter pups given their first swimming lessons by mum Annie and dad Wallace (25)

4_Chester Zoo’s cute new otter pups given their first swimming lessons by mum Annie and dad Wallace (26)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Asian Short-clawed Otters, which are found in various parts of Asia from India to the Philippines and China, are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “Vulnerable” to extinction. Experts believe the species is likely to soon become endangered, unless the circumstances increasing the threat to its survival improve.

Sarah Roffe, otter team manager, added, “Many of the wetlands where Asian Short-clawed Otters live are being taken over by humans for agricultural and urban development, while some otters are hunted for their skins and organs which are used in traditional Chinese medicines.

“It has led to a decline in their numbers - a rapid decline in some regions - and they are now listed as one of the world's most vulnerable species. That's why it's so important to support conservation projects to safeguard the future of this important species.”

As well as a successful record with breeding exotic Otter species, Chester Zoo has also helped fund research and conservation projects in Cheshire to monitor and safeguard native otter populations, which are distant relations of the Asian Short-clawed species.

The new pups are welcome addition to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, a carefully managed scheme overseeing the breeding of zoo animals in different countries.

The species is also sometimes to referred to as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, or Small-clawed Otter. As their name suggests, they have short but very flexible, sensitive claws, useful for digging, climbing and also for grabbing and holding on to prey. They are the smallest of all otters, and in the wild, they live in small groups across Asia from India and Nepal to the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

They mainly eat crabs, other water creatures and fish.

Continue reading "Chester Zoo’s Otter Pups Learn to Swim " »


Take a Peek at Bronx Zoo's Otter Pup

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An Asian Small-clawed Otter pup made its public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in late April.

Born this spring, the pup is already dipping its toes in the family’s watery exhibit.

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Julie Larsen Maher_5826_Asian Small-clawed Otter_JUN_BZ_04 06 16_hrPhoto Credit:  Julie Larsen Maher/WCS
Like all Otters, the species is well adapted for a semi-aquatic life. Their elongated bodies and webbed feet make it easy for them to propel through the water. They have dexterous paws that aid in finding and consuming food, and their fur is extremely dense and waterproof for temperature regulation.

Asian Small-clawed Otters have a vast but shrinking Southeast Asian range that spans from India to the Philippines, Taiwan, and parts of southern China. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is threatened by habitat loss and exploitation.

 


Pueblo Zoo Has Their Hands Full of Cuteness

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The Pueblo Zoo is excited to share news of the birth of two North American River Otters. The pups were born to mom Freyja on March 8.

This is the second litter for Freyja, and the newest arrivals will stay with their mom, in the nest box, for at least eight weeks.

Freyja will have her hands full for the next few months. The pups will need to master their swimming skills before they can be visible to the public in the Zoo’s Otter Exhibit.

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The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is native to much of Canada and the United States (except for portions of the Southwest), and in Mexico-- in the Rio Grande and Colorado River delta areas.

They can thrive in any water habitat---as long as the habitat provides adequate food: ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, estuaries and marshes (cold, warm or even high elevation).

They have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. They have short legs, webbed feet for faster swimming, and a long, narrow body and flattened head for streamlined movement in the water. A long, strong tail helps propels them through the water.

The River Otter can stay underwater for as much as eight minutes. They have long whiskers, which they use to detect prey in dark or cloudy water and clawed feet for grasping onto slippery prey. They are very flexible and can make sharp, sudden turns that help them catch fish. Their fur is dark brown over much of the body, and lighter brown on the belly and face. On land they can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.

Their diet consists of a variety of aquatic wildlife: fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds’ eggs, birds and other reptiles such as turtles. They have also been known to eat aquatic plants and to prey on other small mammals, such as muskrats or rabbits. They are known to have a very high metabolism and need to eat frequently.

In the wild, River Otters breed in late winter or early spring and generally give birth to one to three pups. The young are blind and helpless when born and first learn to swim after about two months. River Otters generally live alone or in small social groups.

The North American River Otter is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, habitat degradation and pollution are major threats to their conservation. They are said to be highly sensitive to pollution, and the species is often used as a bio indicator because of its position at the top of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems.


Wild Sea Otter Gives Birth at Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A wild Southern Sea Otter mom, seeking shelter from stormy seas, gave birth to her pup in the ‘Great Tide Pool’ at Monterey Bay Aquarium on the afternoon of March 5. Guests and Aquarium staff were fortunate to witness the amazing birth of the wild pup.

Sea Otters can give birth in water or on land. The otter mom starts grooming her pup right away to help it stay warm and buoyant. Besides keeping the pup afloat, grooming also helps get the blood flowing and other internal systems revved up for a career of chomping on invertebrates and keeping near shore ecosystems, like the kelp forests in Monterey Bay, and the eel grass at Elkhorn Slough, healthy.

Monterey Bay’s Sea Otter researchers have been watching wild otters for years and have never seen a birth as close-up like this.

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4_WildSeaOtterPupAtMontereyBayPhoto Credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

 

 

After a three-day stay, the wild Sea Otter mom and her fluffy pup headed out into Monterey Bay. There are busy days ahead as this otter mom will teach her pup how to dive, collect food and other skills needed for life in the wild.

By the time a pup is two months old, it’ll have shed most of its fluffy pup coat and be doing lots of exploring and diving. Soon it will be playing its role as a keystone species, keeping kelp-grazing sea urchins in check.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Program has been studying the threatened Southern Sea Otter since 1984 with the aim of understanding threats to the population and promoting its recovery. They also rescue, treat and release injured otters; raise and release stranded pups through a surrogate program; and seek homes for Sea Otters that can't return to the wild.

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Taipei Zoo's Pups Learn the 'Ways of the Otter'

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Asian Small-clawed Otter quintuplets were born at Taipei Zoo on November 16, 2015. The lively siblings have been learning the ‘ways of the otter’ from their attentive mom, Nina.

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4_12744631_1116262118418600_822246060100748544_nPhoto Credits: Taipei Zoo

 

 

The Asian Small-clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinerea), also known as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest otter species in the world. Weighing less than 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs.), the species lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The otter’s paws are its distinctive feature. The claws don’t extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes, giving it a high degree of manual dexterity for feeding on mollusks, crabs and other aquatic animals.

Asian Small-clawed Otters form monogamous pairs for life. The mates can have two litters of one to six young per year, and their gestation period is about 60 days. Newborn pups are immobile, and their eyes are closed. The pups remain in their birthing dens, nursing and sleeping, for the first few weeks. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at 14 weeks. Within 40 days, the young start to eat solid food and can swim at three months. Young otters will stay with their mother until the next litter is born. Males assist females in nest building and food procurement.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Threats to their existence in the wild are: habitat loss, pollution, and hunting.

More great pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Taipei Zoo's Pups Learn the 'Ways of the Otter'" »


Rescued Sea Otter ‘Pup 719’ Finds New Home

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A recognized leader in animal care and conservation, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium recently announced that it has welcomed a 10-week-old orphaned Southern Sea Otter pup (Enhydra lutris nereis) to the aquarium as part of a collaborative partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium – a leader in ocean conservation, and science and conservation of the threatened marine mammal species.

Now weighing about 11 pounds, the female pup arrived at Shedd on January 27 from Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, where she was estimated to be 4 weeks old. The pup is receiving care behind the scenes in Shedd’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery from a team of dedicated animal trainers and veterinarians. She is the third pup from the endangered Southern Sea Otter population to reside at Shedd. Known as “Pup 719” (which refers to the number of otters taken into Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program since its inception in 1984) she is currently achieving critical milestones in her growth.

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TR16-019Photo Credits: Images 1-11 (Monterey Bay Aquarium/ Tyson Rininger) ; Images 12,13 (Shedd Aquarium/ Brenna Hernandez)

 

 

Pup 719’s stranding is a vivid example of how our changing environment is impacting animal habitats on the west coast. Unusually high ocean temperatures associated with El Niño caused heavy storms in January, which may have been a factor in separating Pup 719 from her mother. Additionally, elevated ocean temperatures can be associated with a reduction in kelp cover, shrinking the habitat available to Sea Otters. The latest National Weather Service status for the current El Niño system ranks it among the three strongest episodes dating back to 1950. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted 2015 as the Earth’s warmest year on record.

“We might be facing record numbers of Southern Sea Otter strandings that may be associated with storms caused by El Niño, our role as stewards and caretakers for these animals is as critical as ever,” said Karl Mayer, animal care coordinator for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program.

“There are limited options for stranded otters: reuniting with mother in the wild, rearing for release by a surrogate Sea Otter mother like the one of a kind program at Monterey Bay Aquarium or being placed in an AZA accredited zoo or aquarium. If those options are not available, pups may unfortunately have to be humanely euthanized,” said Tim Binder, executive vice president of animal care for Shedd. “Organizations like Monterey Bay Aquarium are doing critical work to try and reunite these species and when there are no other options – Shedd stands at the ready to assist in urgent animal care needs like providing a permanent home for Pup 719.”

As she acclimates to her new surroundings at Shedd, Pup 719 continues to achieve many important milestones which include eating solid foods such as shrimp and clams, foraging for food, grooming on her own and interacting with Shedd’s animal care team.

Continue reading "Rescued Sea Otter ‘Pup 719’ Finds New Home" »


A Little Somethin’ Sweet at Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A wild baby Sea Otter was born December 20th in the Great Tide Pool at Monterey Bay Aquarium!

For several days prior to the birth, a wild female Sea Otter had been using the protected basin of the Aquarium’s Great Tide Pool to rest from the winter storms. The night before her pup was born, just as the Aquarium closed, she was spotted slinking into the pool.

According to Monterey Bay staff, it’s rare for a healthy Sea Otter to visit the pool so frequently. The mystery was solved around 8:30 a.m. on December 20th when Aquarium staff witnessed a new pup resting on the proud new mom’s belly!

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4_10869402_10153755191277482_988889495385402685_oPhoto Credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

Since the event, Aquarium staff, volunteers, and visitors have made their way to watch a conservation success story take place.

Monterey Bay Aquarium will keep the public updated on this new otter family—even though mom may decide to head back out to the wild at any time. Currently though, she’s still grooming her pup and enjoying the comfort of the Great Tide Pool. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s web page for further information: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

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Otter Pup Ready for Fun at the Bronx Zoo

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Monty, the Asian Small-clawed Otter pup, has been eagerly exploring his exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. In an effort to keep his curiosity from getting the better of him, mom and dad are never far behind.

It has been several years since a new otter pup has inhabited the Bronx Zoo’s Jungle World. Eleven-year-old mom, Jasmine, and nine-year-old dad, Gyan, are first time parents. So far, they have been doing an outstanding job with little Monty. Keepers have been giving them plenty of privacy and time to bond, only interrupting for quick weigh-ins to check the pup’s growth.

2_Julie Larsen Maher _3517_Asian Small-clawed Otters and Pup_JUN_BZ_09 04 ...

3_Julie Larsen Maher _3630_Asian Small-clawed Otters and Pup_JUN_BZ_09 04 ...Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCSAside from his new desire to explore, Monty has started to eat solids and is getting better at swimming.  His parents take their jobs seriously. Jasmine continues to keep his nest in order, and dad has started bringing him bits of fish.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinerea), also known as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest otter species in the world. Weighing less than 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs.), the species lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The otter’s paws are its distinctive feature. The claws don’t extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes, giving it a high degree of manual dexterity for feeding on mollusks, crabs and other aquatic animals.

Asian Small-clawed Otters form monogamous pairs for life. The mates can have two litters of one to six young per year, and their gestation period is about 60 days. Newborn pups are immobile, and their eyes are closed.  The pups remain in their birthing dens, nursing and sleeping, for the first few weeks. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at 14 weeks. Within 40 days, the young start to eat solid food and can swim at three months. Young otters will stay with their mother until the next litter is born. Males assist females in nest building and food procurement.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Threats to their existence in the wild are: habitat loss, pollution, and hunting. 


Meet Little Pudding, Oregon's Orphaned Otter Pup

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A boisterous, squeaky River Otter pup — orphaned last month near Oakridge, Oregon, and now living at the Oregon Zoo — has a name. The 4-month-old will be called Little Pudding, named for a tributary of Oregon’s Pudding River.

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Photo Credit:  Oregon Zoo

"A lot of the animals here get their names from nations or cultures associated with the species' native habitats," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "For the river otters, we like to choose names based on local waterways."

After narrowing their list of potential names to three choices — J.R. Papenfus and Hobson were the other two — keepers last week invited the public to vote for their favorite via the zoo website. More than 5,500 Otter fans weighed in, with Little Pudding earning around 36 percent of the votes.

The pup was alone, hungry and dehydrated when he was spotted wandering alongside a local highway. He was taken to the Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis. Since the young Otter would not be able to survive in the wild without its mother, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted the zoo to see if space was available once the pup's health stabilized.

Once threatened by fur trappers, North American River Otters are now relatively abundant in healthy river systems of the Pacific Northwest and the lakes and tributaries that feed them. Good populations exist in suitable habitat in northeast and southeast Oregon, but they are scarce in heavily settled areas, especially if waterways are compromised. Because of habitat destruction and water pollution, River Otters are considered rare outside the region.