Four Pups are ‘Otter This World’
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — April 17, 2014 – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo welcomes four North American River otter pups, born on February 15, 2014. The babies had their first exam by the Zoo’s veterinarian today, revealing the gender and general health of the otters. The exam revealed that two female and two male otters were born. The females weighed in at 3.1 lbs and 2.29 lbs while the males weighed in at 3.06 lbs and 3.4 lbs. Dr. Hochman, who has been a vet at the Zoo for 43 years, checked their overall wellness, listened to their hearts, and gave them their first vaccination. The pups also had identification transponders inserted. This is standard operating procedure and does not cause the animals any discomfort.
“At nearly nine weeks old, the pups have yet to venture out in public,” explained Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “They opened their eyes for the first time about two weeks ago and are just starting to explore the world around them. We expect that any day now, their mom will be coaxing them out to teach them to swim. If all goes well, these little ones will be swimming like pros within a week.”
Mom, named Necedah, arrived at Connecticut’s only zoo in 2012 from the Minnesota Zoo and Dad, Rizzo, arrived in 2004 from the St. Louis Zoo. She is two years old and he is 11 years old. This is Necedah’s first litter and Rizzo’s fifth. Currently, Rizzo, Necedah, and their pups are the only otters in residence at the Zoo. The four pups are expected to be on exhibit at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo through the fall, at which time it is possible some or all will be transferred to other AZA member institutions for breeding.
“The otters are among the favorite exhibits here at the zoo,” shared Dancho. “Their antics are so entertaining that visitors never get tired of watching them slip and slide around. Add four babies to the mix and it’s guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser!”
To celebrate the births, Aquarion Water Company is making a donation to support the otter exhibit. In 2011, Aquarion became the corporate sponsor of the exhibit, which enabled the construction of a new water slide and ramp for the otters to enjoy. The new slide and ramp offer both fun and function for these playful mammals, while at the same time enhancing their environment.
“In our role as stewards of the environment, water plays an essential role in our daily existence and that is especially true for our aquatic friends,” offered Bruce Silverstone, vice president, corporate communications, Aquarion Water Company. “In this exhibit, water is also providing a playground for the animals. Like everyone, we’re looking forward to the endless hours of pure entertainment these otters will bring.”
River otters are members of the weasel family. They prefer fish, but also will eat turtles, crayfish, and amphibians.
These playful mammals are able to close their ears and nostrils when swimming under water and can remain submerged for six to eight minutes. They use their webbed and clawed feet, powerful tails and back legs to push them through the water at speeds of up to 18 mph. Their water repellent fur helps to keep them both warm and dry.