Earlier today, Woodland Park Zoo (601 N 59th St) announced the birth of their newest residents, four Asian small-clawed otters. The four pups, three females and one male, were born to 4-year-old mother Teratai and 8-year-old father Günter on January 20.
This is the second litter for the proud parents who gave birth to their first litter, who were recently named after the Seahawk’s Legion of Boom, in June last year.
The whole family, including the new pups, are currently living off view in a den. “It’s a family affair raising pups,” explained Pat Owen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “While mom nurses the newborns, the father and siblings pitch in to provide supportive care.”
Check out a video of the pups below:
The parents and the “Legion of Boom” are given daily access to the public exhibit, however, they are choosing to spend most of their time as a family unit indoors off view. Their time on exhibit will be slightly irregular for the next couple of months until the new pups can swim and safely navigate the outdoor exhibit. The otters call the Bamboo Forest Reserve home, which opened last summer.
According to Owen, it may be a little while before the veterinary staff can perform a wellness exam. “Like we did with the last litter, we want to be hands off as much as possible. The parents provided excellent care for their first litter and we’re confident they’ll continue the same level of care for their new pups,” says Owen.
Woodland Park Zoo tell us that Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest otters among the 13 otter species. At birth the otters are unable to hear or see and it takes about three weeks for them to fully develop their senses, with loving help from their parents of course. When they are born they weigh a mere 50 grams, equivalent to the weight of a golf ball.
Asian small-clawed otters also make the perfect 12th Man as they are more vocal than most otter species with at least 12 different vocalizations, including whistles, buzzes, twitters, chirps or staccato chuckles.
The Asian small-clawed otters hail from southern and southeastern Asia, including areas of India, Indonesian islands, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, southern China and Palawan in the Philippines.
According to Woodland Park Zoo, their habitats are rapidly declining and the species moved from near threatened status in 2004 to the more serious vulnerable category in 2008. The current wild population is currently unknown, some estimates are as high as 5,000 with others far fewer.
Click here to learn how to help save Asian small-clawed otters and other species.