Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo has welcomed four North American River Otter pups, born on February 15. The babies had their first exam by the zoo's veterinarian on April 17, revealing the sex and general health of the otters.
The pups are two females and two males. The females weighed in at 3.1 pounds (1/4 kg) and 2.29 pounds (1.04 kg) while the males weighed in at 3.06 pounds (1.4 kg) and 3.4 pounds (1.5 kg) Dr. Hochman, who has been a vet at the zoo for 43 years, checked their overall wellness, listened to their hearts, and gave them their first vaccination. The pups also had identification transponders inserted. (This is standard operating procedure and does not cause the animals any discomfort.)
"At nearly nine weeks old, the pups have yet to venture out in public," explains Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. "They opened their eyes for the first time about two weeks ago and are just starting to explore the world around them. We expect that any day now, their mom will be coaxing them out to teach them to swim. If all goes well, these little ones will be swimming like pros within a week."
Mom, named Necedah, arrived at the only zoo in 2012 from the Minnesota Zoo and Dad, Rizzo, arrived in 2004 from the St. Louis Zoo. She is two years old and he is 11 years old. This is Necedah's first litter and Rizzo's fifth. Currently, Rizzo, Necedah, and their pups are the only otters in residence at the Zoo. The four pups are expected to be on exhibit at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo through the fall, at which time some or all may be transferred to other Association of Zoos and Aquarium's member institutions for breeding.
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"The otters are among the favorite exhibits here at the zoo," says Dancho. "Their antics are so entertaining that visitors never get tired of watching them slip and slide around. Add four babies to the mix and it's guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser!"
River otters are members of the weasel family. They prefer fish, but also will eat turtles, crayfish, and amphibians.
These playful mammals are able to close their ears and nostrils when swimming under water and can remain submerged for six to eight minutes. They use their webbed and clawed feet, powerful tails and back legs to push them through the water at speeds of up to 18 miles (29 km) per hour. Their water repellent fur helps to keep them both warm and dry.