An insanely cute Asian Small Clawed Otter has begun making appearances on exhibit at Denver Zoo. The male pup has been named Jinlin (Jee-Lin) who is being cared for by his mother, Asha and father, Bugsy. Currently the pup has the choice to go out on exhibit or remain inside.
Mum, Asha moved to Denver in 2012 from Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Bugsy came from Zoo Atlanta in 2013. Bugsy and Asha have both been very hands-on in raising the pups showing their great skills as first time parents.
The pups name jilin refers to a Chinese province that was formerly known as Kirin. This is a homage to one of the Denver Zoo’s other Asian small-clawed otters which is called Barry Kirin.
The pup is incredibly playful. He is learning to swim and plays with clam shells and plastic balls. Well when he’s not hiding from his mum and dad at least. As he grows older more of playful nature is beginning to show through and is also becoming braver.
These otters are the smallest of the world’s 13 otters. They come from Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula and South-eastern China. They live in tropical coastal wetlands, freshwater rivers and creeks with some even venturing into rice paddies.
This species is classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They have come under threat due to habitat destruction, draining of wetlands, pollution from pesticides and metal along with hunting to obtain their luxurious fur. Scientists see this species as an indicator species which shows that others in the area may soon become endangered.
Asian small-clawed otters are named for their short claws which do not extend past the fleshy pads of their toes. This species has a stream-lined body, a muscular tail and the ability to close their eyes and nostrils that help it to swim. When swimming bubbles stick to them making them look silver.
Jinlin can be seen in the El Pomar Foundation Village hall in Denver Zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage Habitat.
Photo Credit: Denver Zoo