Keepers at Woburn Safari Park are delighted to announce their latest arrival, a tiny female 8-week-old Asian short-clawed otter pup. Proud parents Beatrix and Kovu were spotted emerging from their secluded nest with their little one close by.
Being a member of the smallest otter species, the tiny pup would have only weighed about 50 grams at birth, which is roughly the size of a golf ball. She is now a lot bigger, with keepers noting her open eyes and loud squeaks during her first important health check earlier this week.
First-time mum doing brilliantly
As Beatrix is a first-time mum, keepers were listening attentively for the pup's first squeaks when they suspected she had given birth in the pair's secluded den back in December, but left them to their independent pup-rearing for around 6 weeks, ensuring they were undisturbed during this important bonding time before performing necessary health checks.
The important little pup is expected to start swimming very soon and eating solid food in just a few weeks, under the careful guidance of her parents while gaining more confidence each day.
Next steps for the little family
Asian short-clawed otters are highly sociable animals, with one monogamous adult pair giving birth to many pups, who can live together well into adulthood in social groups of up to 12 individuals. It is hoped that the pair will go on to have more siblings to join the little pup, having now successfully started their family group at Woburn Safari Park. Beatrix was brought to the Park from Flamingo Land last year as a potential mate for male Kovu, and the pair have been inseparable since.
A species Vulnerable to many threats...
The birth is a vitally important success in Asian short-clawed otter breeding across BIAZA collections, as this species is classed as Vulnerable to extinction out in the wild due to habitat destruction and pollution.
Asian short-clawed otters are also threatened by the exotic pet trade, which has been accelerated in recent years by viral videos on TikTok of these otters being kept as pets, residing in homes and even being dressed up in outfits. While this may seem cute to viewers, BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) warns that engaging with this material online contributes to the harmful perception that these wild animals can be kept as domestic pets, and may increase the numbers of otters being poached in the wild to be sold into the illegal pet trade.
Therefore, the conservation of this species is vital to ensure their future and the birth at Woburn couldn't come at a more important time to educate the public about otter conservation, reduced human interaction and the importance of enriching, natural lifestyles for otters in captivity.
Spot the pup for yourself this half-term!
Visitors can spot the pup, Beatrix and Kovu within their purpose-built Otter Falls enclosure in the Foot Safari, as the little otter pup continues to grow and explore more each day.BOOK NOW