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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Help Name Binghamton Zoo's Otter Triplets!

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The Binghamton Zoo has announced the birth of three North American River Otter pups, born on March 1!

The pups were born to Elaine and Leroy, the resident otters who have been at the zoo since 2007. The pups weigh in at about .5 pounds each (180-232 g). It is hard to determine their sexes due to their size and age.

A naming contest for the three otter pups will take place until April 3. Submit your ideas here

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Female otters give birth, nurse, and care for their young in a den prepared by the mother. They are born with fur, but are otherwise helpless. Elaine has been a wonderful mother and has been taking care of them since birth. When they get older, they will get a swimming lesson from mom.

The last time the pair had a pup was in 2010, when they had their firstborn, Emmett, who is now at the Downtown Aquarium in Denver, Colorado.

The three otter pups will stay at the Binghamton Zoo through the summer and into the fall, when at the decision of the North American Species Survival Plan management committee, they will go to other zoos to become the foundation of new breeding pairs.

Learn more after the fold.

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River Otter Pups For Pueblo Zoo!


Three North American River Otter pups were born Monday, March 3, 2014 at the Pueblo Zoo. Keepers were able to get close enough on March 6 to weigh and sex the pups. The zoo confirms there are two females and one male! Judging by their healthy initial weights, the pups seem to be nursing well - 145g (boy), 135g (girl), 155g (big girl!). 






The pups are currently off exhibit and zookeepers and staff are giving the new family their space. It may be several weeks to more than a month before they are ready to make a public appearance. Their first official wellness exam was Monday. Stay tuned for more updates!

Tiny Otters Weigh In at Perth Zoo

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Four new members of the world’s smallest otter species – the Asian Small-clawed Otter – have made their public debut at Perth Zoo in Western Australia. The four pups were born on December 27 and a few days ago had their first medical checkup with veterinary staff to weigh, sex, microchip, vaccinate and examine their general health.

The vets identified two females and two males ranging in size from 1.14 pounds (520 g) to 1.23 pounds (560 g). Asian Small-clawed Otters weigh only about eight pounds (3.5 kg) when fully grown. 

The pups have recently started learning how to swim. At this age, the parents carry the pups out of the nest box and into the pool, and then carry them back inside again – but the pups will soon start venturing out by themselves.

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Perth Zoo Chief Executive Susan Hunt said the tiny pups are part of an Australasian breeding program to help protect a species that is threatened in the wild.

“The otters at Perth Zoo have now had 16 otter pups, which is four litters in the past two years. These latest pups are the third litter for parents Asia and Tuan,” Hunt said.

Asian Small-clawed Otters are native to parts of India, southern China, Malaysia and Indonesia. They are highly social animals who pair for life. Males play a critical role rearing the pups, including nest building, swimming lessons and supplying food. Older siblings also take a role in the care of new pups and two older sisters are currently helping rear the new babies.

See and read more after the fold.

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UPDATE: Ziggy the Otter Learns to Swim at Oregon Zoo


Ziggy, a two-month-old North American River Otter at the Oregon Zoo, is living up to his name as he learns to swim with the help of his mom, Tilly.

Photo Credit:  Shervin Hess, courtesy Oregon Zoo

The pup, born November 8 and named after Oregon’s Zigzag River, is growing into his name, keepers say — zigging this way and that and scampering away from his mom, Tilly, when she tries to lead him indoors.  “He’s a little motorboat,” said senior keeper Julie Christie. 

“Otter pups are very dependent on their mother and they don’t know how to swim right away,” said Christie. “The mother actually has to teach them.”

Tilly is experienced in giving swim lessons – Ziggy’s older brother Molalla, nicknamed Mo, learned to swim under her tutelage just last year. 

Recently Tilly has been offering similar instruction to Ziggy, nudging her new pup to the water’s edge and then plunging in with a firm grip on the scruff of his neck, just as Otter moms do in the wild.

“Tilly has been teaching Ziggy to do some deep dives,” Christie said. “Otter pups are very buoyant, so it takes them a little bit to learn how to go underwater.”

Both of Ziggy’s parents — mom, Tilly, and dad, B.C. — are rescue animals who had a rough start to life.

Tilly was found orphaned in 2009. She was about 4 months old, had been wounded by an animal attack and was seriously malnourished. Once her health had stabilized, Tilly came to the Oregon Zoo.   B.C. was also orphaned in 2009 and after being taken in by the Little Rock Zoo, moved to Oregon as a companion for Tilly.

North American River Otters are relatively abundant in healthy river systems in parts of their range, but were extirpated (locally extinct) in many areas of the United States in the 20th century.  Thanks to reintroduction programs, Otters have been reestablished in several states.   

Rescued Sea Otter Pup Comes to Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A rescued male Sea Otter pup recently went on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The rescue, for now named Otter 649, was stranded in November on Jalama Beach in Santa Barbara County as a three-week-old pup, weighing less than seven pounds (3.2 kg). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared him to be non-releasable, and authorized the aquarium to raise him on exhibit. 

He was admitted into the aquarium's veterinary intensive care unit, where he was well cared for. Now 13 weeks old and weighing 16 pounds (7.25 kg), Otter 649 is robust and healthy. He has a friend, too! His interactions with his otter companion, Gidget, will help the younger otter learn how to socialize with other exhibit animals. 

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Easy to recognize with his smaller size and uniformly black, velvet-like fur, the young rescue will remain on exhibit as long as husbandry staff continue to see positive interactions with Gidget. Like the other Sea Otters on exhibit, Gidget is also a rescue who would not have been able to survive in the wild. The exhibit otters act as companions, mentors, and surrogate mothers for the aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. Otter 649 is the first pup that Gidget has mentored.

Eventually, Otter 649 will be transferred to another aquarium accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He will be named at his new home. 

Otter 649 is the sixth pup to go on exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium. He is the 649th stranded otter to be brought into the aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation program since 1984. Learn more about the aquarium's efforts to save this endangered species here.

Giant Otters Start Out Small at Zoo Miami

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Zoo Miami is home to a new litter of highly endangered Giant Otters!  The two male pups were born on December 19 and are currently in a secluded den off of exhibit being raised by their mother, Kara and their father Witoto.  Kara was born at the Philadelphia Zoo and Witoto is on loan from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources in Brazil.  This is the fifth successful litter produced by this pair at Zoo Miami.

At nearly 5 weeks old, the two pups are just now beginning to open their eyes and will remain in the den for the next several weeks prior to being introduced to their exhibit. 

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Though they are only about two feet (60 cm) long and weigh approximately four pounds (.9 kg) at this time, they may grow to be nearly six feet (1.8 m) long and weigh close to 75 pounds (34 kg) as adults.  Commonly called 'River Wolves' in their native habitat, Giant Otters are found in isolated and remote areas within some fresh water 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 10-12 animals with a lifespan of approximately 12 years in the wild and up to 21 years in captivity.

Sea Otter Mom and Pup Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A wild Sea Otter mom took her pup for a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium! The pair spent the day hanging out in the aquarium's nearby Great Tide Pool, much to the excitement of visitors and staff. 

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Photo credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sea Otters are an Endangered species found along the northern and eastern coasts of the North Pacific Ocean. They were hunted extensively for their warm, soft fur from the mid-1700s through the early 1900s. Now protected, they have rebounded well in some areas. They are considered a 'keystone' species in kelp forest habitats: Sea Otters eat and limit the numbers of sea urchins, which otherwise overgraze and extensively damage kelp forest ecosystems. Kelp forests are home to an amazing diversity of life, and serve as important 'nursery' habitats for young fish. 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium monitors wild Sea Otter populations, conducts important research, and rehabilitates stranded Sea Otter pups for release in the wild. Learn more about their work in Sea Otter conservation here.

And, see a video of the visiting otters here!

Oregon Zoo's Otter Pup Has a Name!


A North American River Otter pup born at the Oregon Zoo on November 8 now has a name!  The zoo’s River Otter staff came up with three waterway-inspired names for their fans to choose from, and the winner is…Zigzag, or Ziggy for short.  

Nearly half of the 8,000 voters chose this name over two other options, Willamette and Trask.  All three names are references to Oregon rivers.

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ZooBorns first reported on the birth of this pup here.  Born to experienced mother Tilly, the pup has been growing quickly under her diligent care.  Young River Otters are completely dependent on their mothers, and even need to be taught how to swim. 

North American River Otters are relatively common in the Pacific Northwest, but are rare in other parts of the United States.  These sleek, playful mammals require healthy river systems to thrive.  They feed on mollusks, fish, crayfish, and other river fauna.

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Five Otter Pups Born at Greensboro Science Center

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Snuggled in a furry pile, five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups born at North Carolina’s Greensboro Science Center on November 11 are just beginning to open their eyes and explore the world.

The pups are the first litter of this species ever born at the facility.  For now, the pups remain behind the scenes with their parents, Jelly and Mark Lee.  The family will move into their exhibit sometime in January or February, at which time the pups will learn how to swim in the exhibit’s deep pool.    

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Photo Credit:  Greensboro Science Center

Jelly and Mark Lee came to the Science Center in the spring under the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.  Asian Small-clawed Otters form monogamous pairs and mate for life. They are the smallest of the world's Otter species and inhabit swamps, rivers, and tidal pools in southeast Asia.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists these Otters as Vulnerable, due to habitat degradation, hunting, and pollution.

See more photos of the Otter pups below the fold.

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