Woodland Park Zoo’s ‘otterly adorable’ North American River Otter pups officially have names! The two boys have been named Tucker and Nooksack, and the two girls were named Piper and Tahu.
According to Woodland Park staff, Nooksack, Piper, and Tahu were thoughtfully named by three families who are great friends of the zoo, and Tucker’s name was voted on by zoo-goers that attended the zoo’s “Bear Affair: Living Northwest Conservation Day”.
Swimming doesn’t come naturally to otters. Keepers report that first-time mom, Valkyrie, has been a phenomenal teacher, masterfully showing her babies the ins and outs of navigating the water in their exhibit’s pool. The pups are mastering the art of diving, and with four pups to teach at once, that’s no easy feat for mom. The babies quickly took to the water, and their initial splashing and paddling has now blossomed into graceful diving and gliding through the pool.
All four otter pups, and mom Valkyrie, are in their outdoor habitat, located at the zoo’s Northern Trail, daily between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If they’re not visible, they’re most likely napping — all that swimming can really wear a pup out!
The four pups were born in March and are all still nursing with their mom. Their current weights are between 4 and 6 pounds each. The pups are the first offspring for mom, Valkyrie, and dad, Ziggy (both 5 years old). It’s also the first-ever documented River Otter birth in Woodland Park Zoo’s 119-year history!
North American River Otters (Lontra Canadensis) are semi-aquatic members of the weasel family. Their habitat ranges over most of North America in coastal areas, estuaries, freshwater lakes, streams and rivers; they can be found in water systems all over Washington State. River Otters consume a wide variety of prey such as fish, crayfish, amphibians and birds. At the top of the food chain, River Otters are an excellent reflection of the health of local ecosystems.
All otter species are considered threatened, while five of the 13 species are endangered due to water pollution, overfishing of commercial stock, and habitat destruction.
To help Woodland Park Zoo contribute information to sustainable breeding, husbandry and public awareness of the River Otter, patrons can adopt the species through the zoo’s ZooParent program. For more information, see the zoo’s website: https://www.zoo.org/