Ariel, the North American river otter, is a wonderfully protective mother. For the past few weeks she has been teaching her pups to swim. But being a good protective mama, she seemed determined not to anybody watch. You never know when a predator may come by. It has been challenging to spot the pups out of the den. Even our keepers were only getting glimpses of a quick swim, but then Ariel would quickly carry each pup (by the scruff of its neck) quickly back into the den. Quick sightings and the obvious wet trails they left behind were the only evidence that she was bringing them out at all . . . Until now!
Recently Ariel has deemed the pups big enough to play outside for extended periods of time. They are about two months old and currently about half the size of mom. While they are swimming quite well, they are still trying to figure out how to dive. You may witness the mom grabbing their scruff with her mouth and pulling them under. If you see this, don't worry. That is how otters teach their pups how to swim. As the pups get older and mom relaxes a bit, the babies will spend more and more time on exhibit!
If you've been yearning to see our otter pups, but haven't been successful yet, all we can say is keep trying (like all of the zoo staff is!) It will be worth it.