Potter Park Zoo

Three Otter Pups Born to Nkeke and Miles at Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park Zoo's North American river otter Nkeke gave birth to three pups Wednesday, Feb. 3 – almost a year after her last litter.

“This is Miles and Nkeke’s third litter of pups, and while each litter has been exciting, this one is especially so since it is their first set of triplets,” said Carolyn Schulte, Potter Park Zoo otter keeper. “Nkeke is an experienced mom and thanks to her excellent relationship with the keepers we have been able to monitor the pup’s growth closely to ensure they each grow at a healthy rate.”

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At two days old, a quick physical exam was conducted to get a baseline body weight and check for any abnormalities or injuries. The pups weighed in at 107 grams, 88 grams, and 75 grams. Potter Park Zoo Director of Animal Health Dr. Ronan Eustace said triplets can be challenging for an otter to raise.

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Otter Family Welcomes Pups at Potter Park Zoo

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Potter Park Zoo is overjoyed to announce the February 6th birth of two North American River Otters to mother, Nkeke, and father, Miles.

Although it is still very early in their life, keepers report that the babies seem strong and are nursing on a regular basis. To keep mother and pups comfortable, the Zoo’s staff monitors the new family through a camera in the nest box.

“The Zoo staff’s excitement of their birth has to be tempered with the realization that it’s still very early in the life of the Otter pups. While Nkeke seems to be doing an excellent job as a mother, she is a first-time mom and is learning as she goes. For most wild mammal babies, the critical period is usually the first month or so of life. This is where ‘failure to thrive’ is most likely to occur. Careful monitoring of Nkeke and the pups will continue for quite some time,” said Sarah Pechtel, Potter Park Zoo General Curator.

Nkeke arrived at Potter Park Zoo in the fall of 2016 from Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island, and breeding was first observed between she and Miles the following February. The North American River Otter Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended the pairs introduction and breeding. This SSP, one of many in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), is responsible for developing an annual breeding and transfer plan for the species. This plan identifies population management goals and makes recommendations that help ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied population.

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4_New Otter Mom NkekePhoto Credits: Potter Park Zoo (Image 4 = New mom, Nkeke / Image 5 = New dad, Miles)

The birth of the pups marks a milestone for Potter Park Zoo staff, being the second successful River Otter litter in the Zoo’s history. Miles, the father of the new pups, was the first Otter pup born at Potter Park Zoo in 2013.

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Potter Park Zoo's River Otter Pup Raised With Orphans as Sibling Trio

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Michigan's Potter Park Zoo has announced the addition of three North American River Otter pups. Only one was born there, but all three will be raised together. Back on the morning of February 19, the zoo's Otter named Jilly gave birth to a single pup. Due to complications at birth, the pup, named Miles, is being hand-reared. His health improved drastically because of the quick action and continued care by Potter Park Zoo’s animal care staff. 

Then, in late April, zoo officials opted to adopt two orphaned Otter pups from Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The siblings are named Bonnie and Clyde and were also born in February, so all three pups are the about the same age. Now Keepers and Vet staff are raising the three pups together. All three are energetic, playful and learning how to swim, and were just introduced to their exhibit very recently with their keepers all around them. 

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Photo Credit: Potter Park Zoo

“Miles marks the first Otter pup ever to be born at Potter Park Zoo,” says Dr. Tara Harrison, veterinarian at Potter Park Zoo. “It worked out well to adopt Bonnie and Clyde shortly thereafter, because Otters are social animals and like to have friends to learn with.” 

Read more about the pups and see more pictures after the fold:

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When Is a Hedgehog Not a Hedgehog?

When it's a tenrec! Although the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec sure looks like a hedgehog, it's actually a very different animal. The tenrec family comprises animals that look like hedgehogs, opossums and even otters, but are actually a great example of convergent evolution. Isolated from many other would-be mammalian competitors in Madagascar for millions of years, the humble tenrec evolved into many different species filling niches commonly occupied by a wider variety of mammals.

This little fellow was born at the Potter Park Zoo in Michigan on June 24th to one of the only breeding females in the United States.

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One cup of baby tenrec please

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Photo credits: Dr. Tara Harrison / Potter Park Zoo

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