Otter pups receive first veterinary exam at WPZ

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Four Asian small-clawed otters born at Woodland Park Zoo received their first veterinary examination today. The zoo’s animal health team assessed their overall health, measured and weighed the pups, and administered vaccinations.

The wellness exam is a part of Woodland Park Zoo’s exemplary animal care program. The exam revealed the pups to be three males and one female. They currently weigh between 0.6 to 0.7 kilograms (1.3 to 1.5 pounds).

Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of animal health, gave the pups a clean bill of health. “We’re pleased to report all four pups are robust and healthy. They have fully round bellies and are within normal growth range at this age,” said Collins. “All pups have healthy appetites, are gaining increased mobility and are socializing with their family members, all good signs they’re thriving.”

The pups were born December 9 at Woodland Park Zoo to 7-year-old mother Teratai (pronounced tear-a-tie) and 11-year-old father Guntur (pronounced goon-toor). The birth represents the third litter for the parents.

The new pups currently live off view in a maternity den with their parents and three older sisters. Raising otter pups is a family affair—the whole family plays a role in raising the pups. Mom nurses the newborns, and dad and older siblings provide supportive care. Occasionally, the adults go outdoors for short periods in the public exhibit but primarily spend their time indoors to focus on caring for the pups.

Pat Owen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo, said, “The pups are exploring their surroundings, pouncing and chewing—the first signs of playing. They’re very similar to puppies at this age. They mostly eat and sleep but will start running and chasing each other fairly soon.”

The parents and sisters will soon teach the pups how to swim in the safety of a shallow tub. After they master the tub, the pups will be given access to the outdoor exhibit where they will learn how to dive a few inches deep in the large pool, with their family keeping a close watch. “The pups will make their debut to zoo-goers when we’re confident they can swim and safely navigate the outdoor exhibit. This could potentially happen by early March,” said Owen.

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Photo courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo.

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