Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Otter pups are all boys

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications
Photos by: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo


Move over, One Direction. We've got our own band of boys at Woodland Park Zoo that is stealing hearts and making fans squeal. That’s right—after their first vet exam, we've learned our four Asian small-clawed otter pups are all boys!

An otter pup gets his first check up from the zoo vet.

The otters had their first check-up with the zoo's vets and are all healthy and hitting their benchmarks as growing pups. Still, they don’t do too much yet other than eat, sleep and play in their behind-the-scenes den. Even the playing isn't too advanced—no running or chasing, we’re still just at that pouncing and chewing on each other stage.

The pups are now 9 weeks old.

Weighing in at 1.2 – 1.4 pounds each, the pups are now big enough to get their feet wet. Swim lessons behind the scenes are going slowly. They’re beginning to dip their mouths in a small, shallow tub. Mom dips her mouth, then touches the pups’ mouths with hers. These are important first steps in teaching her pups to swim, getting them comfortable around the water. We’re letting mom and dad teach at their own pace and comfort level.

Vets do a quick blood draw during the exam. 

Once they pass their swim tests, introduction to the outdoor exhibit will be just around the corner for the pups. Because the otter parents, 8-year-old dad Guntur and 4-year-old mom Teratai, both play an active role in raising the pups, the whole family has been off view together in an indoor otter den since the birth in June. We can’t wait to see them back out on exhibit once the pups become strong swimmers.

The pups were examined one at a time.

This is a monumental month in the pups’ development for another reason—they’ll begin weaning from mom in late August. The parents are just beginning to share food with the pups. Eventually they’ll shift to a solid diet of chopped smelt, capelin and soaked cat food (yum!).

We can't wait to see these little ones debut once they learn how to swim!

A steady source of food and access to clean water are not only important to our growing pups, but to Asian small-clawed otters in the wild as well. The population size in the wild is unknown, with some estimates at 5,000 and others at far fewer. Poaching and water pollution are the biggest threats to this smallest of the otter species. Woodland Park Zoo’s collaborations with conservation partners working in Asian forests are helping to protect the habitats otters and so many others depend on for survival. Learn more about our international conservation efforts through our Partners for Wildlife program.

4 comments:

  1. Adorable beyond words; great work, WPZ... as always. :) Hugs from Janet Waite

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  2. Is there a contest to name them???

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  3. Megan in WallingfordAugust 16, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    First, it never occurred to me that baby otters have to *learn* to swim! Second, I've been wondering about these pups. I assume you knew the parents were expecting when they came from their previous zoo? The chronology seemed odd: they arrive, spend very little time in their new exhibit, move a bunch of greenery into their den, and then, suddenly, pups!

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    1. The timeline is a little tricky to follow! Though the exhibit opened in May, the male arrived here from Zoo Atlanta in January and the female arrived the next month from Bronx Zoo. Before their exhibit opened in May, we introduced them to each other in a behind-the-scenes den so they could start to bond well in advance of their debut. And, well, they bonded. :-) We suspected our female was pregnant and knew that even with their debut, they may very soon bring new additions to the exhibit. Sure enough, she gave birth in June.

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