Since their birth, the parents and pups have been left alone in seclusion because of how sensitive they can be to external activity. After giving the parents and pups several weeks alone to bond and establish themselves, they were briefly separated yesterday (for the first time) so that the Zoo’s veterinarian could perform a neonatal exam on the newborns. Neither of the pups has opened their eyes yet but all indications from the quick exam are that they appear to be healthy and strong.
A first-time mother, Kara was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in March of 2005 and arrived at Zoo Miami on June 4th, 2008. She is on loan from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources in Brazil. The first time father’s name is “Witoto,” and he is on loan from the Cali Zoo in Cali, Colombia where he was born in April of 2004. This is truly an international collaboration in an effort to preserve this extremely rare animal! The pair has been a visitor favorite at “Amazon and Beyond” since the exhibit’s opening in 2008.
More photos below the fold!
Giant Otters are the longest of the world’s 13 otter species with males reaching a length of 6 ft. and a weight of approximately 75 lbs. Commonly called “River Wolves” in their native habitat, Giant Otters are found in isolated and remote areas within some freshwater lakes, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs of tropical South America. Their numbers have been drastically reduced due to fur hunting and habitat destruction. In the wild they feed mainly on fish, but have also been known to eat caiman and snakes. They are highly social and can be found in family groups of 10 – 20 animals with a lifespan of approximately 12 years in the wild and up to 21 years in captivity.
It will be several weeks before the pups and their parents are given access to the exhibit area where the parents will teach each pup individually how to swim. When the date is decided, it will be announced so that the public can come enjoy what is sure to be a wonderful adventure for these very special babies!