The healthy otter pups are now 12 weeks old and out exploring their exhibit

By Claudia Harmata
April 22, 2020 02:29 PM

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has four new Asian small-clawed otter pups running around their facility.

The adorable little otters — two males and two females — were born on Dec. 28 but had been kept behind the scenes with the rest of their family to give them time to grow and develop. On Tuesday, they made their official debut via a YouTube video shared by the zoo. The zoo is temporarily closed due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens welcomed the birth of two male and two female Asian small-clawed otter pups. This is the second birth for the species at the Zoo and parents Carlisle and Harley,” the zoo shared.

According to the zoo, Asian small-clawed otters typically remain in their dens for several weeks after birth to sleep and nurse, and they don’t even open their eyes until they are over a month old. The zoo’s youngsters now weigh more than a pound each at twelve weeks old.

Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo

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Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of the 13 otter species, with adults only weighing between two and eleven pounds. They are typically found in southeast Asia and are considered vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to habitat destruction, pollution of waterways, and poaching.

Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo

“We’re fortunate to work in an environment that places great emphasis not only on education about wildlife, but also on the conservation of vital ecosystems,” Tony Vecchio, the zoo’s executive director, told ABC affiliate First Coast News.

Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo

Zoo officials said that the new pups, along with their one-year-old sister Scotter, are now acclimating to their outdoor home.

While adjusting to their new surroundings, the zoo’s staff is making sure to keep the pups — and all the other resident animals — stimulated during their temporary closure.

Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo

“The animals miss visitors,” Kelly Rouillard, zoo director of marketing and sales, told ABC affiliate First Coast News. “They notice that visitors are not here, so the dedicated animal care team is coming up with fun and innovative ways to provide enrichment to engage animals.”

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