We can count on one hand all the things we’re grateful for this year: friends, family, good health, a roof over our heads and … baby otters. Asian small-clawed otter pups, to be exact.
These cuties first blessed the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo with their undeniably adorable presence on Sept. 24, when they were born to mom Bitzy and dad Kibble. Since then, the three little boys (as yet unnamed) have grown bigger and stronger.
The zoo told Newsweek that Bitzy is a first-time mom, and she’s doing great.
“We had a good feeling about her,” the zoo’s animal curator Tad Schoffner told Newsweek.
Meanwhile, dad already decided it was time for one of the pups to learn to swim and just threw him in the pool! Bitzy wasn’t pleased with her mate and snatched the pup right out of the pool, returning him to his brothers. (Isn’t that just like something your mom and dad would fight about?)
Otter pups are born with their eyes closed, and it takes a few weeks for them to gain mobility and learn to swim. Now that these sweeties are ready, they’ve joined their parents full-time in the RainForest exhibit, though the pups will still have access to their indoor habitat while they get adjusted to their new space. The zoo currently houses seven Asian small-clawed otters.
According to the zoo’s website, “Asian small-clawed otters are indigenous to Asia and are one of the smallest species of otter. They have unusual hand-like front paws with increased tactile sensitivity and reduced webbing, which they use to forage for their prey of crustaceans, mollusks and small fish.”
Schoffner told Newsweek the pups are developing well thus far. “We offer enrichment opportunities where they can use their hands to retrieve food from inside a spiraled plate and to grab fish from within a plastic ball,” he said. “These enrichment items help the animals mimic action they would use in the wild to find food.”
The UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Zoo Babies Program, in partnership with the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, celebrates the birth of the otter pups.
Asian small-clawed otters are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.