NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The Buttonwood Park Zoo has announced the birth of three North American river otter pups.
The zoo’s female otter Dani gave birth on March 17. The pups are getting acclimated to their surroundings and a beginning the process of learning how to swim.
The zoo’s veterinary and animal care staff have been monitoring the pups – which currently weight about 2.5 lbs each – since birth. Zoo officials say otter pups are born almost helpless and require significant care by their mother in order to survive.
Zoo officials say otter pups are born almost helpless and require significant care by their mother in order to survive. Staff says Dani is caring for her offspring excellently.
This is the second litter for 6-year-old Dani at the Buttonwood Park Zoo after arriving there in April of 2013. She gave birth to two pups back in March 2014. The birth of these babies is the result of a breeding recommendation of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) North American River Otter Species Survival Plan (SSP). The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage the otter population within AZA-accredited zoos to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population.
The Buttonwood Park Zoo has had North American river otters since 2000. Zoo director Keith Lovett says the zoo expects to introduce the babies into the otter habitat in the coming weeks and also plans on announcing a naming contest soon.
Lovett also says the otter pups will leave the Buttonwood Park Zoo once they reach sexual maturity and will move to another accredited zoo as part of a larger breeding program.
In a statement, zoo officials say the pups births and presence at the zoo help educate guests about the conservation work being done in wetland areas throughout the country by AZA-accredited zoos to ensure that river otters remain a thriving species in the wild.