A visitor favorite on the Discovery Trail at Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo has just increased its appeal threefold. The North American river otters have a trio of pups now on exhibit and already, they're charming everyone with their antics.
When the zoo’s animal care staff suspected was pregnant, Dixie and Oogie’s night house was modified to allow her to create a nesting area in preparation for the birth. On Feb. 11, keepers noted the tiny squeaks of the newborn otter pups.
To protect the pups and make sure Dixie felt completely secure and not exposed to unnecessary stress, keepers kept them in their den while the father, Oogie, had the run of the exhibit.
Like all otter pups, Dixie’s were born blind (eyes closed) and helpless. After about 30 days, they open their eyes and a week or so later will start to play. In early May, theyoungsters—one male and two females—and their mother were released into the exhibit where Dixie began to teach them to swim. Oogie is currently living separately from the new family until the young otters reach an appropriate size.
North American river otters are members of the weasel family and can be found near lakes and rivers, and coastal areas of Canada and the Northwest, Upper Great Lakes, New England, and Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions of the United States.
Once abundant throughout the U.S. and Canada, otter numbers have declined due to human activities including fur trapping, water pollution, and habitat destruction. The WCS North America Program works across the river otter’s range to save wildlife and wildlife habitat. Conservation practices that have improved water quality and regulated hunting and trapping have helped to restore otter populations in many areas of the U.S.
If you're coming to , make sure to visit these wonderful native American animals and enjoy them while they’re still little. Like all youngsters, they grow up fast!