Otter

Help Name the North American River Otter Pup at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo

The public was able to meet one of Brookfield Zoo’s newest additions—a month-old North American river otter—during a “Bringing the Zoo to You” Facebook Live chat on Wednesday, March 3.

The male pup, born on January 20, is being hand-reared by animal care staff after it was determined that his mom, Charlotte, was not able to provide him with the proper nourishment he needed. Staff hope to introduce him back with Charlotte and his dad, Benny, once he is weaned, which will be towards the end of March.

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(credit Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)

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The inquisitive and playful pup needs a name, and Brookfield Zoo is inviting the public to assist in the final selection. Those wishing, can cast a vote for their favorite on the zoo’s website at CZS.org/OtterName. The name choices are:

  • Chippewa—name of rivers found in the upper Midwest where North American river otters are found
  • Flambeau—a river in north-central Wisconsin also found in otters’ native habitat
  • Pascal—name of otter character in a popular video game
  • Ozzy—just a really a cute name

Voting began Tuesday, March 2, at 11:00 a.m. CT, and continues through Monday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. CT. The name with the most votes will be announced on Tuesday, March 16.

The Illinois population of North American river otters—fewer than 100 individuals in the late 1980s—was once threatened due to over harvesting and habitat loss. However, a successful recovery program initiated in the early 1990s by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources helped increase the number of otters in the state. The program included relocating nearly 350 otters from Louisiana to central and southeastern Illinois. The state also engaged in conserving wetlands and wooded areas along streams and rivers, which is otter habitat. Today, the species is common throughout Illinois thanks to these effort as well as expanding otter populations in neighboring states.


Three Otter Pups Born to Nkeke and Miles at Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park Zoo's North American river otter Nkeke gave birth to three pups Wednesday, Feb. 3 – almost a year after her last litter.

“This is Miles and Nkeke’s third litter of pups, and while each litter has been exciting, this one is especially so since it is their first set of triplets,” said Carolyn Schulte, Potter Park Zoo otter keeper. “Nkeke is an experienced mom and thanks to her excellent relationship with the keepers we have been able to monitor the pup’s growth closely to ensure they each grow at a healthy rate.”

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At two days old, a quick physical exam was conducted to get a baseline body weight and check for any abnormalities or injuries. The pups weighed in at 107 grams, 88 grams, and 75 grams. Potter Park Zoo Director of Animal Health Dr. Ronan Eustace said triplets can be challenging for an otter to raise.

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Otter Pups Munch On Their Favorite Snack (SOUND UP!)

The five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups born at Zoo Dortmund on November 5th and 6th are hungrier than ever! Since they aren’t nearly as good at digging for black beetle larvae in the bark mulch as their parents Kon and Malou, they try to steal the larvae that Kon and Malou have found directly from their front paws or from their mouths. This behavior can also be seen in adult small-clawed otters, which, in contrast to other otters, are very sociable animals. They live in family groups that can consist of a pair and the offspring of several litters. Family members often seek intensive physical contact with one another, clean each other and also sleep snuggled together in their living and sleeping den. Even if Kon and Malou leave the odd larva to their offspring, as can be seen in this video, they do not always give in to the begging of the pups and enjoy most of the insects themselves.

The pups are still pretty well off though, because they still feed mainly on their mother's milk, even if they already have a healthy appetite for solids! Adolescent dwarf otters are suckled by their mother for about four to five months.

Video and text: Marcel Stawinoga / @zoolotse


Giant Otter Pups Born at Budapest Zoo!

Budapest Zoo has a holiday treat for its friends and fans: the first short film of the giant otter pups born there this fall. The little giants are a real rarity, as this endangered species is kept and bred in very few zoos. In Hungary, they can be only found in Budapest Zoo. The pups were born on October 7th, so the two little ones are now two months old. Although Budapest can only present them in a short film at the moment - as The Zoo is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic - they are confident that the general public will soon be able to admire them in person!


Twins' Arrival Brings 'Otter' Joy

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The staff at Banham Zoo are ‘otterly' delighted with the birth of two Asian Small-clawed Otter pups. The babies have recently started coming out of the den to play with their one-year-old sibling Makati, mother Tilly, and father Sam.  

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IMG_8692Photo Credit: Banham Zoo

The two cubs were born on May 22 and are the second litter for Tilly and Sam. As experienced parents, Tilly and Sam share care of the pups are showing excellent parenting skills.

For the first eight to 10 weeks of life, Otter pups remain tucked away in the den with mom and dad. In fact, the keepers were only able to discern that Tilly had given birth when she stopped coming outside to be fed. Once the pups were heard squealing from within the nest box there was no doubt that babies had been born.

The pups are now beginning to venture out of their nest box to explore their outdoor habitat. They will soon undergo their first veterinary exam, where their genders will be determined.

In the coming weeks, Tilly and Sam will start giving swimming lessons and impart other essential skills to their offspring, just as they would in their native habitat.  

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is the smallest of all Otter species. These Otters inhabit shallow, fast-flowing waters in southeast Asia and feed on crabs, snails, frogs, young birds, eggs, fish and small mammals. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Habitat destruction from farming, water pollution, hunting, and overfishing have led to a rapid decline in the Otters’ numbers in the wild. The IUCN estimates the global population of Asian Small-clawed Otters has declined by up to 30% over the last 30 years.

See more photos of the Otters below.

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Naptime for Shedd Aquarium’s Orphaned Otters

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Two orphaned Sea Otter pups, taken in only a few weeks ago, are bonding with caretakers as they continue to grow and build important otter skills at Shedd Aquarium’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery.

ZooBorns introduced the orphans in a recent feature: “Rescued Sea Otter Pups Get a Second Chance At Shedd Aquarium” 

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4_BRH_0706Photo credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Much of an otter’s behavior is not instinctual but is learned by watching mom. So, since mom isn’t around, the care team at Shedd is filling that role, providing food, helping the otters learn to groom their fur and more.

These are busy days for otters, which are naturally highly active to help them withstand the cold temperatures in their native waters. But the pups need their sleep as well, so the aquarium decided to share a few recent photos from naptime.

The aquarium is inviting fans to stay tuned for more milestone updates on the otters--including details on a media open house, potential naming opportunities, and info on when the public will be able to see them on exhibit at Shedd.

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Rescued Sea Otter Pups Get a Second Chance At Shedd Aquarium

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The Shedd Aquarium welcomed two orphaned Southern Sea Otter pups that were rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The pups, temporarily referred to as Pups 870 and 872, will remain behind the scenes for a few months as they reach important developmental milestones and build bonds with the care staff and the other Otters at Shedd before they are officially introduced to the Otter habitat.

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BRH_9583Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez 
Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin

The Otter pups arrived at Shedd on Monday, July 8 and have been thriving behind the scenes, receiving around the clock care from Shedd’s animal care and veterinary teams. Both Otter pups are male and only one week apart in age and born in mid-May. Pup 872 is younger and weighs 13.4 pounds. Pup 870 weighs in at 17 pounds. 

The Otters were both taken in by Monterey Bay Aquarium and deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This designation means that because the pups weren’t mother-raised and taught how to survive in the wild, they would not be successful if released into their natural habitat. Shedd offered to provide a home for the pups because Monterey Bay’s successful Sea Otter surrogacy program is currently at capacity with other pups in need.

Pup 870 was discovered stranded on May 18 near Stillwater Cove in Carmel Bay.  While the pup was clinically healthy, attempts to locate the mother were unsuccessful, and staff did not want to risk leaving the pup vulnerable and alone.

The second pup, Pup 872, was brought in two days later, on May 20. Pup 872 was found distressed and vocalizing in high winds and heavy surf at Asilomar State Beach. The pup was shivering, hypothermic and its coat was filled with sand – suggesting it was tossed in the surf. The decision was made to immediately take in the pup for stabilization and no further attempts were made to locate a mother.

Read the rest of the pups' story and see more photos below!

Continue reading "Rescued Sea Otter Pups Get a Second Chance At Shedd Aquarium" »


A Sneak Peek at Four Otter Pups in Australia

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed four Oriental Small-clawed Otter pups on May 1.

The pups have been tucked away in their den since birth, but have recently started to emerge for short periods, giving zoo guests a sneak peek of their cuteness. Keepers have been monitoring the pups in the den via CCTV cameras.

Otter pup and Keeper Tarryn Williams photo credit Jennifer Conaghan
Otter pup and Keeper Tarryn Williams photo credit Jennifer ConaghanPhoto Credit: Jennifer Conaghan

The four pups are all doing well, as is first-time mother Jafar and father Harry. The pups received a clean bill of health from zoo vets at their first check-up and vaccinations. Keepers confirmed that there are three females and one male in the litter.

Father Harry arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo from Singapore earlier this year. Jafar and Harry bonded very quickly, and it became evident to keepers that Jafar was pregnant just a few weeks after she met Harry.

“We monitored the Otter dens closely via CCTV cameras in the lead-up to the birth as well as for the first four weeks after they were born,” said Senior Keeper Ian Anderson. “Both Jafar and Harry are proving to be great parents. It is normal for Otter parents to both help raise the young pups.”

Keepers have named the three females named Akira, Luna, and Rani, while the male has been named Anng.

The Otter pups’ growth and development is on track, and they have met all their expected milestones.

Native to wetlands in South and Southeast Asia, Oriental Small-clawed Otters are the smallest of all living Otter species. They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss, pollution, and human encroachment.  


Woodland Park Zoo's Otter Pups Have Names

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Woodland Park Zoo’s ‘otterly adorable’ North American River Otter pups officially have names! The two boys have been named Tucker and Nooksack, and the two girls were named Piper and Tahu.

According to Woodland Park staff, Nooksack, Piper, and Tahu were thoughtfully named by three families who are great friends of the zoo, and Tucker’s name was voted on by zoo-goers that attended the zoo’s “Bear Affair: Living Northwest Conservation Day”.

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3_unnamed (5)Photo Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Swimming doesn’t come naturally to otters. Keepers report that first-time mom, Valkyrie, has been a phenomenal teacher, masterfully showing her babies the ins and outs of navigating the water in their exhibit’s pool. The pups are mastering the art of diving, and with four pups to teach at once, that’s no easy feat for mom. The babies quickly took to the water, and their initial splashing and paddling has now blossomed into graceful diving and gliding through the pool.

All four otter pups, and mom Valkyrie, are in their outdoor habitat, located at the zoo’s Northern Trail, daily between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If they’re not visible, they’re most likely napping — all that swimming can really wear a pup out!

The four pups were born in March and are all still nursing with their mom. Their current weights are between 4 and 6 pounds each. The pups are the first offspring for mom, Valkyrie, and dad, Ziggy (both 5 years old). It’s also the first-ever documented River Otter birth in Woodland Park Zoo’s 119-year history!

North American River Otters (Lontra Canadensis) are semi-aquatic members of the weasel family. Their habitat ranges over most of North America in coastal areas, estuaries, freshwater lakes, streams and rivers; they can be found in water systems all over Washington State. River Otters consume a wide variety of prey such as fish, crayfish, amphibians and birds. At the top of the food chain, River Otters are an excellent reflection of the health of local ecosystems.

All otter species are considered threatened, while five of the 13 species are endangered due to water pollution, overfishing of commercial stock, and habitat destruction.

To help Woodland Park Zoo contribute information to sustainable breeding, husbandry and public awareness of the River Otter, patrons can adopt the species through the zoo’s ZooParent program. For more information, see the zoo’s website: https://www.zoo.org/