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First Check-up for Otter Pups at Woodland Park Zoo

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Four new otter pups at Woodland Park Zoo in Washington just received a clean bill of health during their first hands-on wellness exam. The Asian Small-clawed Otter pups—three females and one male—were born to 4-year-old mother Teratai (pronounced tear-a-tie) and 8-year-old father Guntur (pronounced goon-toor) on January 20.

The zoo’s newest additions underwent a thorough neonatal exam to check their ears, eyes, mouths and overall development. Each of the otter pups just barely tipped the scales at 1.2-1.5 pounds (about .5-.7 kg), a healthy size for their 8-week-old frames. Exam results indicate all four pups are growing healthily as expected.

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5 otterPhoto credit: Ryan Hawk / Woodland Park Zoo

See a video of the pups' first swimming lesson:


“Since their birth, the parents and four brothers, born last summer, have all pitched in to build their den nest, provide support and, most recently, teach the pups to swim in a behind-the-scenes pool,” said Pat Owen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “The family has been busy introducing the pups to their new environment, and the pups are adjusting very well.”

See more photos and story after the fold.

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The otter pups had access to the outdoors after receiving the green light from the zoo’s animal health staff, but their protective father kept them indoors. The practice introduction sessions will continue into the days ahead as zookeepers familiarize the young family with their new home in the Bamboo Forest Reserve. Viewing hours will be irregular during the introduction sessions. An official debut date will be announced soon.

Asian Small-clawed Otters range from India eastward through entire Southeast Asia, to the islands of Palawan and Taiwan, and to southern China. With numbers in decline due to habitat loss and poaching, they are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.