Birth of a rare otter pup a pleasant surprise

Birth of a rare otter pup a pleasant surprise

#Animals, #Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 01st August 2018 by Media Relations

A rare male Oriental Small-clawed Otter pup born in April has finally emerged from the nest box and can now be seen with his family at Taronga Zoo Sydney. This brings the number of these otters at Taronga Zoo Sydney to four.

The pup, born on 21 April has been named ‘Saati’ by Keepers, which means ‘surprise’ in Nepali. Animals, including otters, can exhibit signs of phantom pregnancy, and keepers reviewing footage of the nestbox were surprised when mum Pia went into labour with the unexpected pup. Saati is Pia’s second birth, and joins dad Ketut and older brother Intan, who was delivered by emergency caesarean section after complications during the birth.

Ketut arrived at Taronga Zoo Sydney from Perth Zoo in 2015 and his successful paring with Pia is seen as an encouraging sign for the regional breeding program for Oriental Small-clawed Otters. The pup is the second successful otter birth at Taronga Zoo Sydney in more than 16 years.

The smallest of the 13 otter species, weighing less than five kilograms, Oriental Small-clawed Otters are found in the streams, rivers, marshes and wetlands of southern India, southern China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Identified as a vulnerable species, these otters continue to be threatened by habitat loss, water pollution and poaching for the fur trade.

Keeper Ben Haynes said that the pup was doing well after his birth and explained why it is visible only after 10-11 weeks.

“These otters are very slow to develop, which is why it takes so long for pups to emerge from their nest and venture out into their exhibit,” said Keeper Ben.

“The family are excited to have him as a new addition, and even dad Ketut and brother Intan love taking turns to look after him,” Keeper Ben said.

“Unfortunately the Oriental Small-clawed Otter is vulnerable to extinction, like many other species targeted by the illegal wildlife trade. Guests can help animals such as these in the wild by downloading the Wildlife Witness app, and using it to report any evidence of the illegal wildlife trade for investigation,” he said.

Because otters have a high metabolism and love to forage for food, Saati and his family can be seen playing in their habitat and learning to swim and explore throughout the day along the Wild Asia rainforest.