Perth Zoo’s baby otters have received their first check-up, with the four Asian small-clawed pups in perfect health.
The species is known as the social butterflies of the animal world — and are known for their very strong family ties.
Karen Rotherham, senior keeper at Perth Zoo, said the eight-week-old pups would perform a vital role in ensuring the health and survival of the species.
“Most of the animals here at Perth Zoo are part of the breeding program whether here or internationally, so they have a really important role in breeding these Asian small-clawed otters,” Ms Rotherham said.
“It’s World Otter Day so that is a pretty important day for us at Perth Zoo.
“But also it’s the first vaccination for our little otter guys and it’s the first chance for our vets to give them a once over.”
Ms Rotherham said the new family would stay together until the parents had another litter, when the pups would go off into the world.
“It’s really good experience for these little guys to help raise their [future] brothers and sisters, and once they’re old enough they’ll join a breeding program somewhere in the region,” she said.
New brood a boon for otter future
The four pups will remain with their parents until after the next litter. (ABC News: Sarah Collard)
The three males and one female are yet to be named, with keepers saying the pups will eventually be given monikers from their original homelands in southern Asia.
The youngsters have only just started walking, but are already straying from the watchful eye of mum and dad, Paddy and Cerdik, who arrived at the zoo last year from zoos in Auckland and Frankfurt.
“They’re doing really well,” Ms Rotherham said.
“Mum and dad are just star parents for first-time babies. They are doing a sterling job.”
Unlike many animals, Asian small-clawed otters are monogamous, and the male parent is the family breadwinner.
“The dad will feed mum when she’s in the box with the babies but he also helps groom them and look after them and when they are starting to eat fish,” Mr Rotherham said.
“He’ll take them fish and help them learn how to take fish.”
The species is classed as vulnerable in the wild, with natural habitats under threat from deforestation, pollution and human activities.
“If we don’t do something to help then they become endangered and critically endangered and no-one wants that to happen,” Ms Rotherham said.
‘We want to keep them living here for a long time.
“If it’s a clean planet for us then it’s a clean planet for them.”
The four pups will eventually be given names in keeping with their Asian heritage. (ABC News: Sarah Collard)