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May 21, 2013 > Otter pups at Oakland Zoo

Otter pups at Oakland Zoo

Submitted By Nicky Mora

After successful swimming lessons and healthy checkups, three male otter pups are now on exhibit at Oakland Zoo. They were born to Ginger, river otter, on the morning of February 24, 2013 at Oakland Zoo. Each baby weighed approximately 0.3 pounds at birth or about 136 grams. They now weigh around 4.5 pounds. The pups are named Kohana (swift), Hinto (blue), and Shilah (brother).

"This is the third litter that Ginger has had here at Oakland Zoo and she is a great mom, so we will be as hands-off as possible and let her do her job," said Keeper Andrea Dougall.

Even though Ginger, otter mom, is being a fabulous mother, zookeepers have been tracking the otters' growth and health with weekly checkups, which have been referred to as "pupdates." For the past two months, the pups have been off exhibit to nurse and grow. At this point in time, all three otter pups' eyes have opened; they are becoming more mobile and vocal as they continue to gain weight and mature. Swimming is not instinctual; therefore, the pups were not on exhibit until they were strong swimmers and reached a certain size.

River otters actually spend two-thirds of their time on land, yet eat mostly fish, crayfish, frogs, turtles, and other aquatic invertebrates. Otters breed in late winter to spring but the embryos only develop to the blastocyst stage and then they stop developing further until about 9-10 months later. Once they start to develop again, gestation is 68-74 days. This type of process is known as delayed implantation. The pups will start their life in a burrow in a riverbank and are born blind and helpless. They are nursed by mom otter for one month and are weaned at about 3-4 months; they then begin to venture out of the burrow/den to play and learn how to swim.

Zoo guests are able to watch the new pups in their exhibit daily. The River Otter exhibit is located in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo, near the Rad Room and Alligator exhibit. Currently, Oakland Zoo has a total of seven river otters for visitors to observe and enjoy.

Oakland Zoo
9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland
(510) 632-9525
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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