A new litter of Asian small-clawed otter pups made their public debut Wednesday at the Santa Barbara Zoo, along with their parents and older siblings.
The 14-week-old pups were the second litter born at the zoo in the past year.
Born May 21, the pups have been kept by their parents in a den behind the scenes until they grew in their waterproof fur, were old enough to safely swim and began to eat solid food. The first litter joined in the care of the new pups as training for future breeding.
The pups may not be on view at all times, depending on their sleeping and feeding schedules. Their exhibit’s 3-foot-deep pool has been sectioned off for the new pups’ safety and will reopen when they are mature enough to dive.
The pups’ parents arrived in early 2010 and are paired as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Both were first-time parents when their first litter of five pups was born on Aug. 20, 2010.
This species is the smallest of the world’s otters and lives in freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps throughout Southeast Asia. At about 2 feet long and weighing less than 10 pounds, they are less than half the size of North American river otters. Their claws do not protrude beyond the ends of the digital pads, thus their name.
The otter pups, like many of the animals at the zoo, can be named by making a donation to the zoo. For more information, click here or call the zoo’s Development Department at 805.962.5339.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 2 to 12 and seniors age 60 or older; children younger than 2 are admitted free. Parking is $5.
— Julia McHugh is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Zoo.