The Chicago Zoological Society is thrilled to announce the birth of twin North American River Otter pups at Brookfield Zoo. The male and female pups, born on February 23, are the first successful births of this species in the Zoo’s history.
The adorable siblings are currently behind the scenes, bonding with their mom, learning how to swim. They are scheduled to make their public debut later this month.
The pups’ mother, Charlotte, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in June 2012 from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. The father, Benny, joined the Zoo family from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri, in August 2004.
Otter mating typically occurs between December and April, with most births occurring between February and April of the following year. Pups are born with their eyes closed, fully furred, and weighing about 4 ounces.
The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is a participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) North American River Otter Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative population management and conservation program for the species. The program manages the breeding of Otters in zoos to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.
The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. It is a member of the subfamily Lutrinae in the weasel family (Mustelidae).
An adult River Otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). The River Otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur.
North American River Otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. Fish is a favored food, but they also consume various amphibians (such as salamanders and frogs), freshwater clams, mussels, snails, small turtles and crayfish.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists these Otters as “Least Concern”, meaning that the populations are very stable. However, habitat degradation and pollution are major threats to their conservation.