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Meet Perth Zoo's new Asian Small-clawed Otter pups. Perth has had two litters of four pups born at the zoo in the past few months. One of the litters can be seen in their exhibit opposite the Red Pandas. Perth Zoo is part of regional breeding program for Otters and the births are the zoo's first in 18 years. These highly social critters pair for life, with males playing an important role in the rearing of pups. Dad's duties can include building the nest, supplying food for mom and her pups, as well as teaching the young to swim! Hunted for their fur, meat and body parts, otters are under threat in the wild.

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Photo credit: Perth Zoo

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The first Otters born at Perth Zoo in 18 years made their public debut today during a health check by the Zoo’s veterinary staff. Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the breeding success followed last year’s arrival of two new breeding males and two breeding females from zoos in Europe and the US.

“Female Asia from Florida and male Tuan from Denmark were paired in October and have proved to be very compatible, producing four healthy male pups,” Mr Marmion said.

“The pups, born on June 19, have just started to venture out of their nest box and explore their exhibit, including testing the waters of their pool.

“Asia and Tuan are doing a fantastic job raising the pups, which weighed about 660 grams at their first health check at eight weeks of age. Typical for a male Otter, Tuan has been observed nest building and taking food to the pups and is very watchful over his family.

“Today the 13-week-old pups received their second vaccination and look to be in good health. The youngsters are now becoming quite active and adventurous so they will be increasingly visible to visitors in coming weeks.

“The second breeding female, Boo, who arrived from the UK last year, has also given birth to a litter of four pups. The two female and two male pups were born on July 7 and were sired by Tuan’s brother and travelling companion, Doan.

“This second Otter group are housed in the Zoo’s off-display breeding facility, with plans for this Otter family to be transferred to Adelaide Zoo early next year as part of the Australasian breeding program for this species.”

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is the smallest of the 13 otter species, weighing just 3.5kg when fully grown. They live in streams, rivers, marshes and rice paddies and also along sea coasts and in mangroves. They are found in parts of India, southern China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Minister said the Otters would get plenty of attention at Perth Zoo, which achieved a record number of 640,642 visitors in 2011-12, up 4.7 per cent from the previous year.

“It’s the highest attendance in the zoo’s history which is fantastic news and shows just how popular the Zoo’s residents are among both locals and tourists,” he said.