Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 8:04 pm | Fair 68º


Otter Pups Make Their Debut at Santa Barbara Zoo

Pups leave their parents' den and venture into their exhibit for the first time

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s five Asian small-clawed otter pups came out into their exhibit for the first time Wednesday morning, accompanied by their very attentive parents.

Staying together in a tight group, they explored the exhibit’s small pool, wooden logs, rockwork and moat. The large pool has been blocked off until the 12-week-old pups are big enough to navigate deeper water.

The pups’ waterproof fur hasn’t completely grown in, so they got pretty wet splashing in the pool. They had a meal of fish and carrots, and continued to investigate for several hours until the parents led the pups through a opening leading into an off-exhibit den.

This is the first birth of Asian small-clawed otters at the Santa Barbara Zoo in more than 20 years. The pups were born Aug. 20 and, just as they do in the wild, the parents kept them in their den until they were old enough safely swim and could eat solid food. They now have access to the outside exhibit and will be visible when the parents choose to bring them out of the den.

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 otter pups, like many of the animals at the zoo, can be named by making a donation to the Santa Barbara Zoo. A contest to name one of the otter pups begins Saturday. 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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