SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) — Zoo Miami has made history once again with the birth of a second litter of endangered Giant River Otters.
The litter was born on November 3rd. There were a total of four pups but one was stillborn. Two days later, the second male pup also died. The two females survived.
The loss of the two pups is not uncommon, especially taking into consideration that the parents are still caring for their two original pups that were born in January of this year, according to Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill.
Though the two remaining pups appear to be doing well, there is still a significant risk of losing them due to the overwhelming demands on the parents so zoo officials are monitoring their progress closely.
The pups are in a secluded den off exhibit and if everything goes well will remain there for several weeks prior to being introduced to the exhibit.
The pups still have their eyes closed and weigh close to a pound. The mother’s name is “Kara,” and she was captive born at the Philadelphia Zoo in March of 2005 and arrived at Zoo Miami on June 4th, 2008. She is on loan to Zoo Miami from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources in Brazil.
The father’s name is “Witoto,” and he is on loan from the Cali Zoo in Cali, Colombia where he was born in April of 2004.
During the next several weeks, the parents will be on and off exhibit at irregular times as they care for their new offspring in the secluded den area.
Zoo Miami is only the third zoo in North America to successfully reproduce Giant River Otters.
The Giant River Otters have been a visitor favorite at “Amazon and Beyond” since the exhibit’s opening in 2008.
Giant Otters are the longest of the world’s 13 otter species with males reaching a length of 6 ft. and a weight of approximately 75 lbs. Commonly called “River Wolves” in their native habitat, Giant Otters are found in isolated and remote areas within some freshwater lakes, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs of tropical South America. Their numbers have been drastically reduced due to fur hunting and habitat destruction.
In the wild they feed mainly on fish, but have also been known to eat caiman and snakes. They are highly social and can be found in family groups of 10 – 20 animals with a lifespan of approximately 12 years in the wild and up to 21 years in captivity.