North American River Otters Born at Zoo Miami!

Photo by Ron Magill

On Tuesday, February 6th, our five-year old North American river otter, “Zinnia,” gave birth to three pups at the Florida: Mission Everglades exhibit at Zoo Miami! This is Zinnia’s second litter of babies and they underwent a quick neonatal exam two days alter to determine the gender, get their weights, and do an overall physical exam. We are happy to report that they all appear healthy!

After a pregnancy of approximately two months, the pups – one female and two males – were born in a secluded den where all initial indications are that they are being well cared for by their mother. Zinnia arrived at Zoo Miami in April 2019 from the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island, where she was born. She and her pups will remain isolated behind the scenes for some time to allow them to bond and grow with minimal disturbances. The seven-year-old father, “Edison,” is presently separated from Zinnia and the pups so that she can give them her undivided attention.

North American river otters are extremely active and playful animals that are found in a variety of fresh water habitats throughout much of the U.S. and Canada. They can grow 3-4 feet long including the tail and usually weigh between 12 and 25 pounds with the males getting slightly larger than the females. In the wild, they live around 10 years but can live twice that long under human care. They feed on a variety of aquatic life such as fish, frogs, and crustaceans, as well as eggs, reptiles, birds and small mammals. They can stay under water for several minutes and have a thick protective fur to insulate them against cold temperatures. They are perfectly adapted for semi-aquatic life with a slender body, a long flat and powerful tail, and short legs with webbed feet. In addition to being quick agile swimmers, they are also capable of running up to 15 mph on land.

Though their populations were threatened decades ago mainly due to trapping for the fur trade, their biggest threat today is due to habitat loss and pollution.

See more info and pictures here.