TO celebrate World Otter Day, Perth Zoo’s newest litter of four Asian small-clawed otter pups were given their first veterinary check today.
The eight-week-old pups, three males and one female, were born on April 3 to mum Paddy and dad Cerdik.
The adults were brought to Perth Zoo in 2017 as part of a co-ordinated breeding program to help safeguard the species against extinction.
Perth Zoo senior keeper Karen Rotherham said: “Paddy was born at Frankfurt Zoo in Germany and Cerdik came from Auckland Zoo in New Zealand, it was an international pairing, increasing the genetics within the breeding program”.
“Asian small-clawed otters are a vulnerable species, so it was important that Perth Zoo could successfully introduce the parents and breed pups to add to the global otter population.
“Otters are born with their eyes closed and rely on their parents for the first weeks of their lives, so these little ones have spent the past couple of months tucked up in their nest boxes.
“We’ve been sharing updates on the Zoo’s Facebook and Instagram pages when we’ve taken a quick look to check how they’re developing, but soon visitors will be able to see them for themselves as they start exploring their home during the winter months.”
World Otter Day is held annually on the last Wednesday of May to help raise awareness about the issues otters face in the wild.
All 13 species of otter are threatened because of destruction of their aquatic habitats from pollution, urban development and the agriculture industry.
“Wild otters have been poached for the illegal pet and fur trade, whilst entanglement in fishing nets can result in injury and sometimes painful death for some otters,” Ms Rotherham said.
“We hope our growing otter family at Perth Zoo will help more people discover why these incredible animals are worth saving!”
Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of all the species and are native to rain forests in north-west India to south-east China, the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia and Sumatra.
With a lot of their time spent in the water, otters rely on their thick double coats of fur to stay warm.
“Their undercoat is very dense, and their top coat is mostly waterproof,” Ms Rotherham said.
“The pups will continue to develop their fur and start to become more independent in the coming month, so visitors should be able to see them being fairly active by the winter school holidays.”
To celebrate the arrival of the otters you can consider an animal adoption package or donate to Perth Zoo’s conservation fundraising program. More information at www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au.