The latest additions are in good health and bonding with their mother.
On February 16, 2022, Stone Zone welcomed 3 North American river otter kits to the zoo family.
According to a zoo release,1 the kits were born due to a suggested breeding between first-time mother, 4-year-old Dunkin, and 16-year-old male Sushi, who recently died of age-related complications. North American river otter kits are entirely dependent on their mother for the first few months of their lives, and they spend time in their den under their observation. Dunkin is bonding with her kits and demonstrating maternal instincts like hiding her offspring under hay when zoo officials are around.1
“We are so excited about the birth of these kits, which is a first for Zoo New England,” said Pete Costello, assistant curator of Stone Zoo, in the release.1 “As with any new birth, we are closely monitoring mom and babies. Dunkin is doing great and allowing the kits to nurse often. She’s a pro for a first-time mom.”
Weighing around 4 oz and blind and toothless at birth, North American river otters grow to about 10 to 30 lb. The kits will begin swimming typically between 28 to 56 days and start walking at 35 to 42 days.1 This is when they start to play on their own, but they don’t depart from the den and mother for a few more weeks.
According to the release,1 otters are talented swimmers and divers and can reach speeds of 7 miles per hour and remain underwater for up to 8 minutes. Additionally, layers of fat offer them insulation against cold water and air temperatures, plus their thick hair creates a waterproof outer layer to protect their undercoat.
Otters are indicator species for the health of the bodies of water where they reside, so when spotted in nature, they are likely in a healthy, clean ecosystem.1
Zoo New England is involved in the North American River Otter Species Survival Plan (SSP)—a cooperative, inter-zoo program established nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSP aims to ensure the survival of specific species in zoos and aquariums (primarily those threatened or endangered) and improve the conservation of these species in the wild.
Triple the love - Stone Zoo welcomes three North American river otter kits! News release. Zoo New England. March 10, 2022. Accessed March 15, 2022. https://www.zoonewengland.org/zoo-news/2022/march/triple-the-love-stone-zoo-welcomes-three-north-american-river-otter-kits/