The National Zoo and Aquarium has welcomed the birth of three Asian small-clawed otter pups, the world’s smallest otter.
The three pups – Josey, Chester and Basil – are the first to be born at the National Zoo, despite the zoo housing otters for nearly two decades.
“We are exceptionally excited,” wildlife and grounds manager Bec Scott said.
“This is an exceptionally important birth. The otters are a part of a regional breeding program so for us to be able to contribute back into the program is great.
“In the wild otters are considered a vulnerable species, they are threatened with things like habitat destruction. These guys are found in waterways and rivers and things like pollution and agricultural development are really causing issues for their survival.
“We will certainly take the opportunity while visitors are coming to see the new otter pups to educate them about the fight for their survival in the wild.”
The four-month-old otters have just learnt to swim and forage for food in their enclosure by mum, Pai, and dad, Bal. Otter pups spend the first six weeks in a nest with their eyes shut before their parents begin teaching them how to swim.
And it’s not just a learning curve for the infant otters either.
“Being a first-time parent can be a little bit tricky. Like a first time parent for humans, you have got to learn the skills and things that you need to raise your offspring,” Bec said.
Otters can have between one and six pups at a time.
“As part of the regional breeding program there is a bigger picture and we are a part of that but at the moment we are just enjoying the otter pups that we have and you never know, in the future we might be able to have some more,” Bec said.
The birth and naming of the baby otters follow the birth of baby Namadgi, the first koala to be born at the National Zoo, earlier this year
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