Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Three North American river otter pups have made their public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo.
The three otters are all male and were born on Feb. 25. The pups have yet to be named.
“North American river otters are a species whose range includes New York and these three new Brooklynites provide an opportunity for us to educate people about the importance of keeping local waters and ecosystems in good health,” said Denise McClean, Director of the Prospect Park Zoo.
The Prospect Park Zoo breeds North American river otters as part of the Species Survival Program (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
All otters are in the weasel family, and while most members of this family are solitary, North American river otters can be quite social. In addition to females living with their young, adult males will also form social groups outside of the breeding season.
River otters are born toothless with closed eyes. Newborns stay in the den with their mother to allow time for development. They start consuming solid food at around two or three months, about the same age they are introduced to water, where they quickly adapt to their semi-aquatic lifestyle.
The otter exhibit on the Prospect Park Zoo’s Discovery Trail is naturalistic representation of the otters’ natural habitat. Otters are found near lakes and rivers throughout the coastal and Great Lakes regions of the United States and Canada. In the early 1900’s, otter populations dramatically declined in large parts of their range due to fur trapping, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Conservation practices that have improved water quality and regulated hunting and trapping have helped to restore otter populations in many areas of the United States. WCS’s North America Program works across the continent to save wildlife and wildlife habitats.