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Otter Pups to Go on Public View at Santa Barbara Zoo

They're the first of the species born at the zoo in more than 20 years

Five 12-week-old Asian small-clawed otter pups, the first of the species born at the Santa Barbara Zoo in more than 20 years, will go on view to the public for the first time at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Santa Barbara Zoo's Asian small-clawed otter pups.
Santa Barbara Zoo’s Asian small-clawed otter pups. (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

Born Aug. 20, the pups have been kept by their parents in a den behind-the-scenes until they were old enough to safely swim and could eat solid food.

Their exhibit has been slightly modified — a deep pool has been sectioned off — for the pups’ safety.

The pups’ parents arrived in early 2010 and are paired as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Jillian was born at the Bronx Zoo; Bob at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Both are first-time parents.

The last time Asian small-clawed otters were born at the zoo was in June 1989. 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 Santa Barbara Zoo. Parents Jillian and Bob were named by donors Peter and Pieter Crawford-van Meeuwen. For details, click here or call the zoo’s Development Department at 805.962.5339.

— Julia McHugh is a publicist.

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