MIAMI – At just nearly 5 weeks old, two otter pups that were born on Dec. 19 at Zoo Miami are now beginning to open their eyes.
The pups, which have been born into a highly endangered species, are being raised by their mother and father, Kara and Witoto, in a secluded den off of the otter exhibit.
While Kara was born at the Philadelphia Zoo, Witoto was is on loan from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources in Brazil. The two pups are the fifth successful littler produced by Kara and Witoto at Zoo Miami.
The pups, which are only about 2 feet long and approximately 4 pounds, will remain in the den for several more weeks before being introduced to their exhibit.
The 5-week-old otters are expected to grow to be nearly 6 feet long and weigh close to 75 pounds as adults. Their breed is a highly social one that can be found in family groups of 10 to 12 animals, with a lifespan of 12 years in the wild and up to 21 years in captivity.
This breed of otters, commonly referred to as red wolves, is typically found in isolated and remote areas within some fresh water lakes, rivers, creeks and reservoirs of tropical South America. They have become an endangered species due to fur hunting and habitat destruction.
The birth of the otter pups wasn't the only birth being celebrated. A lion cub was born on Dec. 15 at the zoo.
Zoo Miami officials have said that while they are hopeful, they remain guarded about the cub's chance for long-term survival.
Zoo officials added that it is a fortunate thing that the mother has continued to feed the cub while allowing the zoo staff to provide the cub with bottle feedings as well.
The cub was the only in the litter and has faced several challenges since birth, from dehydration to bacterial infections, but has managed to survive.
Officials said they will remain vigilant in continuing to care for the cub.