Otter

A Pile of Otter Pups at NatureZoo Rheine


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A furry pile of tiny baby Otters snuggled in the nest box at Germany’s NaturZoo Rheine represents the first-ever birth of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the zoo.

The pups, which were born on October 31, stay so close together that the staff is unsure how many pups are in the nest, but they expect there are four or five little ones.

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Photo Credit: NaturZoo Rheine

Four adult Asian Small-clawed Otters, all about six years old, arrived at NaturZoo Rheine in the summer of 2017. The staff allowed the female to select her mate from among the three males in the group and she became pregnant shortly after.

Keepers knew that the female had given birth because they heard the pups chirping loudly from within the nest box. The female did not come out of the box for four days.  Keepers respected her privacy and allowed her to bond with her newborns. Two of the males cared for the female and her pups by bringing her food during this time. Later, when the female left the nest box for brief periods, the males guarded the nest. The males also brought fresh bedding, cleaned waste from the nest, and helped transfer the pups to a second nest box when the pups were about three weeks old.

Keepers have not disturbed the nest, but one day, when all the adults were out of the box, they peeked inside to check on the pups. At first glance, they thought there were three pups in the box, but then realized there were at least four.  Later, another keeper thought she saw five pups. The number will remain a mystery until the pups come out of the nest with their mom, probably in late December.

Asian Small-clawed Otters, which are the smallest of all Otter species, are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They inhabit wetlands, mangrove swamps, and waterways in Southeast Asia.  Many of these areas are rapidly being converted for aquaculture production, which diminishes the quality of the habitat.  Many surrounding hillsides are being converted to tea and coffee plantations, with the pesticides used in those plantations running off into waterways where Otters live.  


Four Otter Pups Come Out of the Den at Woburn Safari Park

Otter-pup-1_715x589Four Otter pups were born at Woburn Safari Park in late September, and they’re now out of the den exploring their exhibit.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter pups are the second litter born to parents Kovu and Kelani. The first litter of five pups was born in July 2016. The one-year-olds are proving to be great helpers to Kovu and Kelani when it comes to managing the newborns.

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Photo Credits: Woburn Safari Park (1,3,4,5); Linda McPherson (2)

The four new pups, one female and three males, recently received their first hands-on health check from keepers.  The pups were microchipped, sexed, and given a quick exam. All four are doing well.

Animal keeper Louise Moody said, "We are really excited that Kelani has welcomed another litter successfully and that all the pups are doing well. Their older siblings are helping out their parents and bringing food for them all into the nest box.”

The four pups and seven adult Otters can now be seen playing together in their outdoor enclosure, and the pups are learning to swim. The water level in the exhibit pool has been temporarily lowered until the little Otters grow a bit bigger.

In a few months, the family will say goodbye to the older pups.  They will be sent to other zoos to become part of Otter breeding programs.

Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They live in coastal wetlands in South and Southeast Asia, and their habitat has been degraded and reduced significantly in recent decades.

 


Zoo Osnabrück’s Otter Pups Make Public Debut

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Zoo Osnabrück recently released photos of four Asian Small-clawed Otter pups. The pups were born to mother, Haima, and father, Ambu, in early August, but keepers wanted to give the new family time to bond before they made a public debut.

According to veterinarians, the pups all appear healthy. Staff was able to ascertain that two of the pups are females and one is certainly male, however, the smallest and quickest of the litter has yet to allow staff that close-up of an exam. Zoo Veterinarian, Thomas Scheibe, smiled and said, "A small, agile otter is really difficult to catch. One of the four cubs hid completely, so we could only catch and examine three of the cubs. But…we'll catch up soon!”

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4_23215718_1912625722097697_2821923821153530414_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

As part of their routine vet examinations and care, the Asian Small-clawed Otters at Zoo Osnabrück are regularly vaccinated against distemper, a viral disease that often occurs in dogs or some wild animals. "Because the Zoo is not an isolated area, we vaccinate the animals that are susceptible to distemper," explains the wildlife veterinarian.

During the time of the recent exam, each of the pups weighed about 500 grams.

In addition to the vaccination, the otter pups received a microchip, which is also used in pets or horses. "The chip is used for the animals, so that they are individually recognizable. Within one to two years, the young animals will leave us for another zoo, "explained Tobias Klumpe, research associate responsible for the Zoo’s animal transfers.

Visitors can watch the busy family life of the Asian Small-clawed Otters in Zoo Osnabrück’s outdoor area of ​the Tetra Aquarium. Until about the end of November, the small predators will use the outdoor area before they are moved into their winter quarters inside the Tetra Aquarium, where they will also be on-exhibit.

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Tiny Trio of Otter Pups Born at Santa Barbara Zoo

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A pair of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the Santa Barbara Zoo produced their first litter of pups. Three healthy offspring were born in a nesting box in their holding area on October 7.

As in the wild, Otter parents prefer to keep their pups safely tucked in a den. The Zoo’s newborn Otters will not leave the behind the scenes holding area until they are old enough to safely swim and have grown the teeth needed to eat solid foods.

Depending on how their development progresses, keepers estimate the pups could go on exhibit as early as mid-December.

Animal Care staff had recently confirmed that new mom, Gail, was pregnant and estimated that she was due any day. When keepers arrived the morning of October 7, Gail and the father, Peeta, remained in the nesting box.

“The parents didn’t come out to greet us, and then we heard squeaks,” said the Zoo’s Curator of Mammals Michele Green. “That’s how we knew Gail had given birth.”

Gestation is 68 days, and after birthing, the female stays in the nesting box with the pups. Otter moms are given some relief, however, when new dads take over care for short periods of time.

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3_SB Zoo Otters Born 1Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo

Both of the adult Otters are first-time parents. According to keepers, the pair is showing excellent parenting skills toward the two females and one male.

“Gail only arrived in March and it’s been fun to watch them bond, and now become parents,” says Green. “She’s a young mom, but doing very well. Peeta is attentive and diligent.”

Peeta was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Gail was born at the Greensboro Science Center in North Carolina in 2013. The two were paired as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The names (inspired by characters in the popular “Hunger Games” books and movies) were given by their Santa Barbara Zoo sponsors, Peter and Pieter Crawford-van Meeuwen.

Another female, Katniss, was first paired with Peeta, but they did not breed. She passed away in December 2016 from a kidney ailment.

The last time Asian Small-clawed Otters were born at the Zoo was in May 2011 when six pups were born to a pair named Jillian and Bob. That pair also produced five young in August 2010, the first of the species to be born at the Zoo in more than 20 years. The entire family group later moved to the National Zoo, where they live today.

Keepers predict that by January, the pups should be proficient swimmers, and will be on-exhibit at that time. Information on the progress of the Otter pups will be made available at the Zoo’s website: www.sbzoo.org .

Although the Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea syn. Amblonyx cinereus) is only listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the species is seriously threatened by rapid habitat destruction for palm oil farming and by hunting and pollution. They are considered an “indicator species,” meaning their population indicates the general health of their habitat and of other species.

The species is the smallest Otter in the world and lives in freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps throughout Southeast Asia, including southern India and China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. They prefer quiet pools and sluggish streams for fishing and swimming.

Unlike Sea Otters, they spend more time on land than in water, but they are skillful, agile swimmers and divers, with great endurance. They can stay submerged for six to eight minutes.

Asian small-clawed otters are about two feet long and weigh less than ten pounds (half the size of North American River Otters). Their claws do not protrude beyond the ends of the digital pads, thus their names, and their feet do not have fully developed webbing and look very much like human hands.

They are one of the few species of Otter that live in social groups. The bond between mated pairs of Asian Small-clawed Otters is very strong. Both the male and female raise the young and are devoted parents. In the wild, Asian Small-clawed Otters live in extended family groups of up to 12 individuals. The entire family helps raise the young, which are among the most active and playful of baby animals.


Help Name This Baby Otter!

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A male Asian Small-clawed Otter at the Kansas City Zoo needs a name, and you can submit your favorite here until October 20.

The tiny male was born on August 27 to mom Cai, age 10, and dad Ian, age six.  Both parents are caring for their baby behind the scenes. The zoo staff says it will be a few more weeks before the family returns to their exhibit habitat.

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20171003_162708Photo Credit: Kansas City Zoo

All of the baby Otter names submitted through October 20 will be reviewed by the zoo staff. The top four names will be selected and announced on the zoo’s Facebook page for a final vote from October 20 through November 3. The zoo plans to announce the winner on November 10.

Asian Small-clawed Otters live in wetlands and mangrove swamps in Southeast Asia, where they feed on Crustaceans and Mollusks. Every aspect of the Otter’s body is designed for efficient swimming, including the long, torpedo-shaped body, muscular tail, flattened head, and webbed feet. These Otters are the smallest of the world’s 13 Otter species.

Due to habitat degradation, illegal hunting, and pollution of waterways, Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.  The Kansas City Zoo, along with other accredited North American zoos, participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan to breed rare species and maintain a high level of genetic diversity in populations under human care.

 


Vancouver Aquarium’s Sea Otter Pup Makes a Friend

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The male Sea Otter pup being cared for at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is now four months old. The fuzzy pup, named Hardy, was rescued after concerned members of the public found him swimming alone in open water off northern Vancouver Island back in June.

Since his rescue, staff and volunteers have spent shifts feeding, bathing and grooming the pup. Hardy recently began honing his swimming and diving techniques, and he can’t seem to get enough of practicing his new skills!

Since his arrival, the aquarium has anticipated an appropriate time to introduce the orphan to the rest of the Otters housed at the facility. Hardy was recently introduced to Vancouver Aquarium’s 13-year-old rescued female Sea Otter, Tanu, and she just may prove to be a valuable foster mom for the young pup.

Kristi Heffron, Senior Marine Mammal Trainer, shared, “It took Hardy a moment or two to realize that Tanu had joined him in the Finning Habitat. Then, Tanu went to Hardy and put him on her chest, just like a mother would do to her pup. After a little while, we saw them both swimming, grooming, and eating independently. They’re quite comfortable together.”

ZooBorns introduced the Otter pup to readers back in June when he was first rescued. At that time, Lindsaye Akhurst, Manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which is presented by Port Metro Vancouver, made a statement concerning the rescue: “Sea Otters have high energetic needs; after birth they spend about six months with mom, nursing, being groomed by her and learning to forage and be a Sea Otter, so this little guy is still a fully dependent pup. He would not survive on his own, and we’re providing him with the care he needs right now.”

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4_Tanu-holding-Hardy-1200x616Photo Credits: Vancouver Aquarium

According to the report provided to the Rescue Centre, boaters collected the Sea Otter pup after it approached and then followed their boat while vocalizing. There were no adult Sea Otters in sight. Once in Port Hardy, officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) arranged for the transfer to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Although well intentioned, both DFO officials and Rescue Centre personnel say the distressed animal should have been reported first rather than taken from the ocean. “Once they’re removed from the wild it’s impossible to determine if the mother is alive and if they could have been reunited, or if bringing him in was the appropriate action,” said Akhurst.

Paul Cottrell, Marine Mammals Coordinator, Pacific Region, DFO, reminds the public that touching or capturing wild marine mammals is illegal. Decisions about the pup’s future will be made by DFO.

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Tiny Rescued Sea Otter Pup Growing Stronger

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On June 25, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre admitted a tiny male Sea Otter pup as a patient. The fuzzy-faced otter pup, now estimated to be about two months old, was found swimming alone in open water off northern Vancouver Island and brought to the Rescue Centre by a concerned citizen.

You first met the pup on ZooBorns when he was just a few weeks old. Since his arrival at the Rescue Centre, the tiny otter has received 24-hour care from staff and volunteers who feed, bathe and groom him, just as his mother would in the wild. Baby Sea Otters cannot survive on their own, and depend on their mothers for the first six months of life.

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20140134_10154575725655800_4031873439886710919_nPhoto Credits: Vancouver Aquarium (1,3,4,5); Meighan Makarchuk (2)

Care and rehabilitation of rescued marine mammals is very labor-intensive, and it takes a whole team of dedicated staff and volunteers to care for this tiny pup.

The little Otter continues to gain weight steadily and has been growing stronger and more active. He now weighs nearly nine pounds and is growing quickly. He is still nursing from the bottle, and drinks 25 percent of his body weight per day in a special Otter pup formula made by the animal care team.  This week, the baby Otter was offered his first solid food – five grams of clams, which he gobbled up enthusiastically.  He eats every three hours, 24 hours a day.

The care team says the pup is curious and enjoys exploring. He pup is now grooming himself a little bit, but still needs help from the care team to remain clean and fluffy.  They also report that the pup is learning to dive and can dive to the bottom of his swim tub to retrieve toys.

Sea Otters are and Endangered species. They were hunted for their fur until the early 20th century, when their population fell to just a few thousand individuals in a tiny portion of their former range. Bans on hunting and other conservation measures have helped, but Sea Otters are still threatened by fishing net entanglement and oil spills.

 


Vancouver Aquarium Cares for Rescued Sea Otter Pup

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A tiny male Sea Otter pup, estimated to be just two to four weeks old, is now in 24-hour care at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, after concerned members of the public found it swimming alone in open water off northern Vancouver Island on Sunday.

Although the pup appears healthy, he requires care night and day from the Rescue Centre team, just as he would from his mother. Staff and volunteers are spending shifts feeding, bathing and grooming the newborn pup, which has not yet been named.

“Sea Otters have high energetic needs; after birth they spend about six months with mom, nursing, being groomed by her and learning to forage and be a Sea Otter, so this little guy is still a fully dependent pup. He would not survive on his own, and we’re providing him with the care he needs right now,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, Manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which is presented by Port Metro Vancouver.

According to the report provided to the Rescue Centre, boaters collected the Sea Otter pup after it approached and then followed their boat while vocalizing. There were no adult Sea Otters in sight. Once in Port Hardy, officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) arranged for the transfer to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Although well intentioned, both DFO officials and Rescue Centre personnel say the distressed animal should have been reported first rather than taken from the ocean. “Once they’re removed from the wild it’s impossible to determine if the mother is alive and if they could have been reunited, or if bringing him in was the appropriate action,” said Akhurst.

Paul Cottrell, Marine Mammals Coordinator, Pacific Region, DFO, reminds the public that touching or capturing wild marine mammals is illegal. Decisions about the pup’s future will be made by DFO.

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DSC02352-660x440Photo Credits: Vancouver Aquarium 

Once extinct from Canada, the Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) has successfully been reintroduced to British Columbia, and mainly lives off Vancouver Island. Subsequent population growth and range expansion enabled the Government of Canada to change the listing of the species from “Threatened” to “Special Concern” in 2009, as recommended by COSEWIC.

Major causes of death among Sea Otters are lack of food, predators and environmental contamination. A recent study, conducted by researchers from UC Santa Cruz, U.S. Geological Survey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, found the energetic cost of rearing Sea Otter pups could also be leading to higher mortality rates in adult females, and more incidents of pup abandonment.

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals, is the only one of its kind in Canada. Under authorization from DFO, the team rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 100 animals each year; in 2016, they rescued more than 170 animals. For every patient, the goal is to treat, rehabilitate and return it to the wild as soon as possible. The veterinary team provides medical treatment to Harbor Seals, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Sea Turtles, Elephant Seals, Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises.

This year’s rescue season is proving to be a busy one already. As well as the Sea Otter pup, the Rescue Centre has provided assistance and care to a California Sea Lion, a Steller Sea Lion pup, and 29 Harbor seals.

The Vancouver Aquarium would like to remind the public, if you see a stranded marine mammal, do not approach it and keep domestic pets away. Call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.

To report abandoned or injured wildlife in the United States, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at: 1.844.397.8477

*The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, accredited institution and does not receive ongoing funds to provide around-the-clock care for its rescued and rehabilitated animals. To make a contribution for the care of this Sea Otter pup, please visit support.ocean.org/rescuedotter.


Saved at Birth, Baby Otter Comes Out of the Nest

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An Otter pup whose life was saved by an emergency Caesarean section is out of the nest at Taronga Zoo.

When a female Oriental Small-clawed Otter named Pia went into labor on February 28, keepers noticed that she was having difficulty delivering her babies.  They called on the veterinary staff, who performed an emergency Caesarean section on Pia.  Unfortunately, all three of Pia’s cubs were unresponsive when they were delivered.

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Otter Pup 1_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credit:  Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

The staff tried to resuscitate the cubs, and amazingly, one survived.  That pup, a male named Intan, which means ‘diamond’ in Indonesian, has spent the last 10 weeks in the nest box with Pia and her mate, Ketut. Intan has just begun exploring outdoors and tasting solid food alongside mom and dad.

“They’ve been perfect parents. They’re both extremely attentive and occasionally even battle over who gets to look after the pup,” said Keeper Ben Haynes.  “Ketut is a first-time dad, but he grew up with younger siblings so he has experience collecting fish and caring for younger otters.”

The pup is the first successful Otter birth at Taronga in more than 15 years.

“He’s very curious, but still very much reliant on mum and dad for everything. They’ve started encouraging him into the water, swimming alongside him and teaching him to dive underwater,” said Ben.

The smallest of the world’s 13 Otter species, weighing less than 12 pounds as adults, Oriental Small-clawed Otters are found in the streams, rivers, marshes, and wetlands of southern India, southern China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Classified as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, populations continue to be threatened by habitat loss, water pollution and poaching for the fur trade.

See more photos of Intan below.

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Otter Trio Debuts in Time for Mother’s Day

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A lively trio of North American River Otter pups recently made their debut at Oakland Zoo. A male and two females were born February 9, and they were introduced to the public prior to Mother’s Day weekend. According to keepers, their mom, Rose, has been doing a great job taking care of her new litter.

Zookeepers have also given names to the active pups. The boy has been named Si’ahl (“see-all”), and his sisters have been named Imnaha (“em-na-ha”) and Talulah (“ta-lou-la”).

The arrival of the pups brings the total number of North American River Otters, at Oakland Zoo, to six: their mom, dad Wyatt, and grandma, Ginger (Ginger is mother to Rose).

The pups are still nursing, but have begun eating solid foods consisting of fish and some meat.

Dad, Wyatt, is Oakland Zoo’s only adult male and was relocated to Oakland three years ago from the Abilene Zoo, in Texas, where the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) gave him a breeding recommendation.

“We are pleased to have our sixth healthy litter of Otter pups since 2011. This is Rose’s second litter, and we are happy that she is once again being a great mother to her pups. You can see Rose and her three pups daily at the Oakland Zoo, in the Children’s Zoo,” said Adam Fink, Zoological Manager, Oakland Zoo.

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Zookeepers have been tracking the baby Otters’ growth and health with bi-weekly checkups, referred to as "pupdates" to Zoo staff. Rose has only very recently been venturing into the exhibit with her pups. Swimming is not instinctual; therefore, pups do not go on exhibit until they are strong enough swimmers and a certain size.

Zoo guests are now able to watch the new pups in their exhibit daily. The River Otter exhibit is located in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo.

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