Gettin’ Schooled in Swimming at Zoo Berlin

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The young Asian Small-Clawed Otters, at Zoo Berlin, have been entertaining visitors with their undeniable cuteness and their playful antics. Recently, swimming lessons were the preferred activity, and their parents were close by to supervise.

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ZooBerlin_Small Clawed Otter_4Photo Credits: Zoo Berlin

The Asian Small-Clawed Otter is the smallest otter species in the world.  They are native to the mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Their paws and claws are a distinctive feature and give the animal a high degree of manual dexterity for feeding on mollusks, crabs and other small aquatic creatures.

The Asian Small-Clawed Otter is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The threat to the Small-Clawed Otter is similar to that of Smooth-Coated and Eurasian Otters. Throughout Asia the potential threat to its continued survival is destruction of its habitats due to changing land use pattern in the form of developmental activities. In many parts of Asia, the habitats have been reduced due to reclamation of peat swamp forests and mangroves, aquaculture activities along the intertidal wetlands, and loss of hill streams. In India, the primary threats are loss of habitats due to tea and coffee plantations along the hills, loss of mangroves due to aquaculture, increased human settlements, and siltation of smaller hill streams due to deforestation. Increased influx of pesticides into the streams from the plantations reduces the quality of the habitats. 

Learn more about the otter, below the fold!

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You Otter See What's New At The Detroit Zoo

Whisker and Pup -- Jennie Miller

For the second time in two years, the Detroit Zoo is celebrating the birth of North American River Otters. Two male pups – born April 2, 2014, to mother Whisker, 11, and father Lucius, 8 – made their public debut today.

The female River Otter delivers a litter of one to six pups after an eight-week gestation period. At around two months, the young ones get their first swimming lesson when their mother pushes them into the water. Otters are natural swimmers and, with maternal supervision, the pups quickly catch on.

Otter Pup Learning to Swim - Jennie Miller

Whisker and Pups Swimming - Jennie Miller (1)

Otter Pup Exploring Habitat - Jennie MillerPhoto credit: Jenny Miller


“Whisker is an experienced and attentive mother, guiding her pups through many new experiences – the most important of which is to encourage and reassure them as they strengthen their swimming abilities,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Elizabeth Arbaugh.

The yet-to-be-named pups can be seen showing off their newfound aquatic skills at the Detroit Zoo’s Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat. The naturalistic environment features a 5,900-gallon pool with a waterfall and waterslide, and the habitat is designed so that small children can view the otters at eye level as they swim.

The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) can weigh 20-30 pounds, and its slender, cylindrical body can reach 2-3 feet in length. The aquatic mammal sports short, dense, waterproof fur and profuse whiskers. The playful River Otter is swift on land as well as in the water, though its loping trot can look somewhat ungainly compared to its graceful slide through the water.

Once abundant in U.S. and Canadian rivers, lakes and coastal areas, River Otter populations have suffered significant declines as a result of fur trapping, water pollution, habitat destruction, pesticides and other threats. Today, they can be found in parts of Canada, the Northwest, the upper Great Lakes area, New England and Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.

Otter Pup Beats the Odds at Dallas Zoo

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Dallas Zoo in Texas is celebrating the successful birth and nurturing of an Asian Small-clawed Otter pup. She was born on January 25, but needed more than 100 days of devoted care from her keepers, because otter pups born without siblings usually do not survive.

The pup’s mother, Daphne, became the oldest female otter in the national Species Survival Plan’s breeding population to give birth. Now 13, Daphne was age 12 years, 9 months when the pup was born. The pup has been named Tasanee, which means 'beautiful view' in Thai. Dad Jimmy, eight years old, was born at the Dallas Zoo in 2006.

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Photo credit: Dallas Zoo

See video of the otter pup: 

Otters typically give birth to three or four pups. The survival rate for single otter pups is extremely poor, possibly due to their mothers’ insufficient milk production and lack of stimulation from litter-mates. Since 2000, only 18 single pups have been born in U.S. zoos, and 76 percent have died. Tasanee is the first female single pup to survive longer than 30 days.

“This is a remarkable accomplishment for our team,” said Dr. Lynn Kramer, D.V.M., vice president of animal operations and welfare at the Dallas Zoo. “The safe birth of a single pup to the oldest otter mother to give birth has required skilled, dedicated care.”

See and read more after the fold.

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Otters Pups Get First Checkup at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo

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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.)

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5 otterPhoto credit: Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo

"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.

See and read more after the fold.

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Long-Awaited Otter Pups Born at Taronga Zoo

DSC_0241After a 10-year wait, keepers at Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo are thrilled with the birth of two male Oriental Small-clawed Otter pups on January 24.

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DSC_0250Photo Credit:  Taronga Zoo

This is the first offspring for the mother, Emiko, and the father, Pocket.  Both parents are displaying ideal nurturing behaviours. “Emiko and Pocket are being really attentive parents, we are really happy with their nurturing behaviors, as they are both first-time parents so it is a big learning curve for them,” said Senior Keeper Ian Anderson.

According to keepers, Pocket is very paws-on with parenting.  He helped Emiko build the nest before the pups' birth and now helps provide food and care for the growing pups. 

The zoo had been trying to successfully breed Oriental Small-clawed Otters for the past ten years. “We had tried a number of different pairings during this time but finally got the right match with Emiko and Pocket,” Anderson said. 

Read more and see more photos below.

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Rescued Otter Pups Get Emergency Care at Taipei Zoo

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Thanks to inter-agency cooperation, two rescued Eurasian Otter pups are getting the emergency care they need at Taipei Zoo in Taiwan. The abandoned pups arrived recently from Kinmen National Park and are being bottle-fed around the clock by staff at the zoo. In Taiwan, Eurasian Otters are a rare and protected species.

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5 otterPhoto credit: Taipei Zoo

See video of the otter pups:


An initial veterinary checkup found that the babies are both male and are about a month old. Their eyes are still closed, but their canine teeth are starting to grow in. They are being cared for in shifts, with frequent feedings and belly massages to stimulate bowel movements. 

See and read more after the fold.

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Otter Pups Take It Outside!

1503310_10152275027462708_1912724229_nFour Asian Small-clawed Otter pups born at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo in January have finally taken their first steps outdoors – despite the protests of their overprotective dad, Guntur.

The four pups—three females and one male—have had only a few tiny adventures outdoors so far. Though the pups step outside their den for only a few minutes at a time, the good news is that dad seems to be getting more comfortable each time. 


Photo Credit:  Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

You first met the pups on ZooBorns a few weeks ago. Now two-and-a-half-months old, the Otter pups have a lot to learn about the world outside their den.  Luckily they have their 4-year-old mom Teratai, 8-year-old dad Guntur, and four older brothers to show them the ropes.  In these photos, you can see the pups getting help scaling walls, navigating waterways, and getting a friendly nuzzle on the neck.

Asian Small-clawed Otters are native to waterways in Southeast Asia.  The smallest of the world’s Otter species, they weigh only about 11 pounds (5 kg) as adults.  They feed on small crustaceans and mollusks.  Due to habitat destruction, Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Otter pups below.


Two Tiny Otters Grow Behind the Scenes at Auckland Zoo

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Great news: two Asian Small-clawed Otter pups were born at Auckland Zoo in New Zealand! The parents are resident otters Jeta and Juno. Because Jeta is a first-time mother, keepers have been carefully making sure that they have as much peace and quiet as possible. 

The pups are just over a month old, and their sex is still unknown at this point. They were weighed last week, and they’re now .97 pounds (440 g) and one pound (461 g). They been growing steadily, putting on about .2 pounds (100 g) a week.

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Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.  They are found in the countries of India, Indonesia, Vietnam, South China, Malay Peninsula, the Philippines,  living in freshwater streams, rivers, and creeks as well as coastal regions, often near dense foliage. They are the smallest of the world's 13 otter species. 

Otter Pups Are a First for Buffalo Zoo

IMG_1644Two separate litters of North American River Otters were born at the Buffalo Zoo in early March – the first Otters ever born at the zoo.

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Nine-year-old sisters Daisy and Ellie are first-time mothers.  The father of both litters is a seven-year-old North American River Otter named Rascal, who arrived at the Buffalo Zoo in 2012 from the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, NY.

Both Daisy and Ellie are proving to be attentive mothers and are behind the scenes in their dens. The pups are still too small to be on exhibit, but zoo officials expect them to be outdoors within a few weeks.

Agile swimmers, North American River Otters are native to rivers and streams throughout the eastern and western United States and Canada.  In the 20th century, River Otters were extirpated from parts of their range due to habitat loss. In other areas, Otters are plentiful enough to allow trapping.   Reintroduction programs have relocated otters and reestablished populations in areas where Otters had been eliminated.

See more photos below.

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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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