For the first time in more than 10 years, Asian small-clawed river otters have been born at SeaWorld San Diego, making their debut on Feb. 7.
One male and one female pup are being raised in a behind-the-scenes den at Sea Lion and Otter Stadium. The pups are in good health, and are being well taken care of by their very protective, first-time parents, Leo and Giselle.
River otters have long been the co-stars of SeaWorld's popular Sea Lion and Otter show. The park's newest show, "Sea Lions LIVE," pokes fun at some of television’s popular reality shows with their own renditions, including “Dancing with the Pinnipeds” (“Dancing with the Stars”), “Sea Lion Idol” (“American Idol”) and “Rachel Sting-Ray’s 5-Minute Meals” (a Rachel Ray-style cooking show).
The last time river otters were born at SeaWorld was in 1998, when Lucy and Norton became the proud parents of Willow, Buffy and Zander. Buffy and Zander have interacted with guests for more than a decade, going on walks to meet and greet people in the park as part of the In-Park Encounter (IPE) Program. They have also traveled with the public relations team for appearances at TV stations, school programs and other events in a variety of West Coast cities.
The Asian small-clawed river otter is the smallest of the 13 otter species. They mate for life and will stay in small family groups of up to 15. Typical litter size is two to six pups. Gestation is about 62 days, and pups are born small and helpless with their eyes closed. The SeaWorld pups first opened their eyes at about five weeks old, which is typical for the species. They are still nursing, but will begin the weaning process in a few weeks. Maturity is reached in two to three years.