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Three new Otter Pups on exhibit at Oak­land Zoo

pub­lished 11 May 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014

Otter pup OaklandzooAfter suc­cess­ful swim­ming lessons and healthy check­ups, three male otter pups are now on exhibit at Oak­land Zoo. They were born to Gin­ger, North Amer­i­can river otter, on the morn­ing of Feb­ru­ary 24, 2013 at Oak­land Zoo. Each baby weighed approx­i­mately 0.3 pounds at birth or about 136 grams. They now weigh around 4.5 pounds. The pups are named Kohana (swift), Hinto (blue), and Shi­lah (brother).

This is the third lit­ter that Gin­ger has had here at Oak­land Zoo and she is a great mom, so we will be as hands-​off as pos­si­ble and let her do her job
Andrea Dougall, zookeeper »

Even though Gin­ger, otter mom, is being a fab­u­lous mother, zookeep­ers have been track­ing the otters’ growth and health with weekly check­ups, which have been referred to as “pup­dates.” For the past two months, the pups have been off exhibit to nurse and grow. At this point in time, all three otter pups’ eyes have opened. They are becom­ing more mobile and vocal as they con­tinue to gain weight and mature. Swim­ming is not instinc­tual, there­fore, the pups were not on exhibit until they were strong swim­mers and reached a cer­tain size.

See a North Amer­i­can river otter pup being taught how to swim (Ore­gon Zoo):

Zoo guests are able to watch the new pups in their exhibit daily. Cur­rently, Oak­land Zoo has a total of seven river otters for vis­i­tors to observe and enjoy.

River Otter
North Amer­i­can river otters actu­ally spend two-​thirds of their time on land, yet eat mostly fish, cray­fish, frogs, tur­tles, and other aquatic inver­te­brates. Otters breed in late win­ter to spring but the embryos only develop to the blas­to­cyst stage and then they stop devel­op­ing fur­ther until about 910 months later. Once they start to develop again, ges­ta­tion is 6874 days. This type of process is known as delayed implan­ta­tion, and is also seen in polar bears for instance. The pups will start their life in a bur­row in a river bank and are born blind and help­less. They are nursed by mom otter for one month and are weaned at about 34 months; they then begin to ven­ture out of the burrow/​den to play and learn how to swim.

(Source: Oak­land Zoo press release, 09.05.2013)

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