Taronga’s Miracle Otter Pup Explores Outside World for the First Time

A tiny otter pup has begun to venture outside its nest at Taronga Zoo after being delivered in a life-saving caesarian birth.

On the 28th of February veterinary services were called to assist with Pia the small-clawed oriental otter’s birth.

Pia, who was carrying three pups at the time was struggling to give birth naturally. The veterinary services had to undertake an emergency caesarian to try and save her three pups.

“Pia was having difficulties during labour, so we had to intervene and undertake an emergency caesarian,” said Taronga Veterinarian, Frances Hulst.

Unfortunately, all the pups were unresponsive at time of birth. The veterinary services at Taronga worked hard to revive the pups, but two could not be resuscitated. Thankfully one of three was revived and began suckling from her mother within hours of birth.

Otter pupImage: Otter Pup Nursing, source: Taronga Zoo

Now, the curious pup, after ten weeks of living in his nestbox has started to explore his surroundings, under close watch of Pia and father Ketut, of course.

Ketut, the pup’s father, came to Taronga Zoo in 2015. He immediately paired with Pia, a great sign for Taronga’s Oriental Small-clawed Otter regional breeding program.

Both Pia and Ketut are settling into their new parenting roles well.

“They’ve been perfect parents. They’re both extremely attentive and occasionally even battle over who gets to look after the pup,” said Keeper, Ben Haynes.

The new pup named Intan, which in Indonesia means diamond is the first otter pup to be born at the Zoo in over 15 years. Weighing just 500 grams, he’s now trying solid food and learning to swim under the tutelage of his parents.

Image: Pup with his parents Pia and Ketut, source: Taronga Zoo

“He’s very curious, but still very much reliant on mum and dad for everything. They’ve started encouraging him into the water, swimming alongside him and teaching him to dive underwater,” said Ben.

The oriental small-clawed otter is the smallest of the 13 otter species. On average weighing only five kilogrammes. The otter can be found swimming in streams, rivers, marshes and wetlands in Southern India, the South of China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The oriental small-clawed otter is classed as a vulnerable species, threatened by loss of habitat, water pollution and poaching. Fortunately for the species, Taronga’s Conservation Society is a leader in conservation research, animal welfare, wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education.

The successful birth of Intan is not only positive for Taronga, but for the species as well.

Video and images supplied by Taronga Zoo

Header: Taronga Zoo

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