Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is happy to announce the birth of four North American river otter pups (Lontra canadensis), born on March 23, 2023. After a two-month gestation period and a few days past her fourth birthday, Tahu gave birth to her litter of four. Freshwater river otters give birth on land, in dens, where the pups remain secluded with their mother for a period of about eight weeks.
The pups underwent a quick neonatal exam on Wednesday, March 29 by the Zoo’s animal care staff, ensuring that all four pups were of adequate weight and healthy. The birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program, designed to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically stable population for the long-term future. The Zoo allows animals to exhibit natural behaviors, so first-time mother Tahu is being given space to raise her litter without staff assistance.
“This is a great time of year to visit the zoo and witness the new life that spring brings — whether it’s new baby animals or the beautiful flowers that are in bloom,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “River otters are extremely active and playful animals so it will be a great deal of fun for guests to watch the four pups grow. We are more than grateful that Sedge and Tahu were able to produce offspring and that they are doing so well.”
Tahu came from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Wash. in December 2020. The otter pups’ father, Sedge, died last month. His necropsy, standard for all animals who pass from an undetermined illness, is being performed by the Pathology Lab at the University of Connecticut. In the wild, female river otters raise pups on their own, so Tahu is well-equipped to care for the family without a mate.
About North American River Otters
As a species, river otters have suffered from habitat loss, water pollution, and fur trapping. Their numbers are on the rise due to reintroduction programs in parts of the U.S., better water quality, and protection of their habitat. River otters, members of the weasel family, can run on land as well as swim. They are playful and agile athletes, sliding down hills of mud or snow to land with a splash in the water. Their tail is muscular and comprises up to 40 percent of the otter’s body length. They can move through the water as fast as eight miles per hour and can dive to 36 feet. Found throughout most of North America, the river otter lives in aquatic habitats: streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. They prefer unpolluted water with minimal human disturbance.
About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
Get your ticket to adventure! Connecticut’s only zoo, celebrating its 101st year, features 350 animals representing primarily North and South American and Northern Asian species. Guests won’t want to miss our Amur tiger and leopards, maned wolves, Mexican gray wolves, and red wolves. Other highlights include our Spider Monkey Habitat, the prairie dog exhibit, and the Pampas Plain with giant anteaters and Chacoan peccaries. Guests can grab a bite from the Peacock Café and eat in the Picnic Grove. As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and participant in its Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, the non-profit Zoo is committed to the preservation of endangered animals and wild habitats. Tickets must be purchased on the Zoo’s website at beardsleyzoo.org.