DETROIT (WWJ) – For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Detroit Zoo is celebrating the birth of North American river otters. The three pups – two males and a female – made their public debut Thursday morning at the zoo’s otter habitat.
Zoo Executive Director Ron Kagan said this is something that doesn’t happen in captivity very often.
“We didn’t have otters for many years, and before that we had them in a very, very small, outdated kind of environment,” said Kagan. “This has been really an incredible reward for all the hard work and it’s very exciting for all of us to see these guys learn how to swim.”
When they are around two months old, the otter pups receive their first swimming lesson when their mother pushes them into the water. Otters are natural swimmers, and with their mother’s supervision, the pups quickly catch on.
“Whisker is an attentive mom and her pups are very cute and already good swimmers,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Robert Lessnau.
The set of triplets was born earlier this year are at the point where they’re ready to show off their new-found aquatic skills.
“… This is very cool and obviously this is the kind of experience that you can’t do in the wild,” said Kagan. “You can’t see river otters underwater so it’s really extraordinary for the public.”
The zoo didn’t have river otters for a number of years until their river otter habitat was opened in 2002. The habitat is a naturalistic environment complete with a waterfall, water slide and 8,200 gallon pool.