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Potter Park Zoo Welcome River Otter Pups

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: February 24, 2021 8:20 pm

otters potter park zoo

The three otter pups cuddle together in their den at the Potter Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Potter Park Zoo

Nkeke the resident river otter at the Potter Park Zoo in Michigan, USA has given birth to a trio of healthy pups. The new arrivals were welcomed almost a year after her last litter.

Three has proven to be the lucky number for this litter. This is the third litter for Nkeke and her partner Miles and it is also the first time they have welcomed triplets.

“This is Miles and Nkeke’s third litter of pups, and while each litter has been exciting, this one is especially so since it is their first set of triplets,” said Carolyn Schulte, Potter Park Zoo otter keeper. “Nkeke is an experienced mom and thanks to her excellent relationship with the keepers we have been able to monitor the pup’s growth closely to ensure they each grow at a healthy rate.”   

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Keepers were first able to examine the pups at two days old when they performed a quick physical to check for abnormalities or injuries and gain a baseline weight. The cubs varied in weight with the smallest weighing 75g compared to 107g for the largest.

Triplets are a demanding challenge for otter mothers as Potter Park Zoo Director of Animal Health Dr. Ronan Eustace explained, "With triplets there are more demands on the mother and we’re cautiously hopeful that she will be able to raise all three without veterinary intervention.”

Determining the gender of the young pups is difficult but Eustace believes there are two females and a male. Keepers have observed the pups nursing and will continue to monitor them in the coming months.

otters potter park zoo
otters potter park zoo

The otter pups during a health check by keepers

Photo Credit: Potter Park Zoo

Carers at the Potter Park Zoo first noticed signs of Nkeke's pregnancy last month. North American river otters exhibit "delayed implantation" where they can delay the fertilized egg implanting until conditions are correct. This made it difficult to protect the due date.

Nkeke came to Potter Park Zoo in 2016 from Roger Williams Zoo to be paired with Miles who was the first otter born at Potter Park Zoo in 2013. Potter Park Zoo is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) run by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They recommended the pairing of Nkeke and Miles. Since they have welcomed 7 pups.

While otter pups are born with fur their eyes are closed and it will be five weeks before these open. By six weeks old the pups will start swimming.

Females complete all the care of the pups meaning dad Miles can be seen on exhibit while Nkeke cares for the pups behind the scenes.

otters potter park zoo
otters potter park zoo

The otter pups during a health check by keepers

Photo Credit: Potter Park Zoo

Learn more about the Potter Park Zoo on their website – Potter Park Zoo

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