For the first time in a decade, new otter pups were born at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.
The zoo formally announced it on Jan. 16, and the five Asian small-clawed pups were born on Nov. 25.
The pups’ parents were received within the last year, said Jonathan Miot, the zoo’s director and Santa Fe College associate professor.
The father, Duncan, came from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and their mother, Chitra, came from the Santa Barbara Zoo. Miot said it was surprising how quickly the pair mated.
“Just before Thanksgiving, zookeepers reported hearing tiny squeaks coming from Duncan and Chitra’s den,” the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo wrote in a Facebook post.
The zoo used a camera trap to photograph the newborn pups outside of the den on Dec. 20.
Zookeepers are keeping their distance besides cleaning and supplying den materials, such as pine needles and blankets, Miot said.
The newborn otters are still not eating solid food, Miot said. The mother is receiving an increased diet to help provide nutrients for her and the nursing pups.
Miot said the zoo estimates it will keep the otter pups for three to five years before they are placed at other zoos that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums across the U.S.
Taking care of the otters has been a great experience for the students, said Sierra Spears, a zoo animal technology senior at the college.
“We are super fortunate to be able to take care of them and observe as necessary,” Spears said. “Moving forward it will be an incredible opportunity to have seven otters so they can learn and see them grow from start to end.”
A zookeeper holds a new Asian small-clawed otter pup at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.
A zookeeper takes a picture of a newborn Asian small-clawed otter pup.