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Help Name the North American River Otter Pup at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo

The public was able to meet one of Brookfield Zoo’s newest additions—a month-old North American river otter—during a “Bringing the Zoo to You” Facebook Live chat on Wednesday, March 3.

The male pup, born on January 20, is being hand-reared by animal care staff after it was determined that his mom, Charlotte, was not able to provide him with the proper nourishment he needed. Staff hope to introduce him back with Charlotte and his dad, Benny, once he is weaned, which will be towards the end of March.

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(credit Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)

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The inquisitive and playful pup needs a name, and Brookfield Zoo is inviting the public to assist in the final selection. Those wishing, can cast a vote for their favorite on the zoo’s website at CZS.org/OtterName. The name choices are:

  • Chippewa—name of rivers found in the upper Midwest where North American river otters are found
  • Flambeau—a river in north-central Wisconsin also found in otters’ native habitat
  • Pascal—name of otter character in a popular video game
  • Ozzy—just a really a cute name

Voting began Tuesday, March 2, at 11:00 a.m. CT, and continues through Monday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. CT. The name with the most votes will be announced on Tuesday, March 16.

The Illinois population of North American river otters—fewer than 100 individuals in the late 1980s—was once threatened due to over harvesting and habitat loss. However, a successful recovery program initiated in the early 1990s by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources helped increase the number of otters in the state. The program included relocating nearly 350 otters from Louisiana to central and southeastern Illinois. The state also engaged in conserving wetlands and wooded areas along streams and rivers, which is otter habitat. Today, the species is common throughout Illinois thanks to these effort as well as expanding otter populations in neighboring states.

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