Some Otter-ly Great News—North American River Otter Pups Make Their Public Debut at Brookfield Zoo
Two North American river otters, who were born on February 23 at Brookfield Zoo, made their public debut in The Swamp habitat. Since their birth, the pups have been behind the scenes bonding with their mom and learning how to swim. While they are getting acclimated to their new environment, guests can usually see them in the mornings.
The pups, named Jack and Kate, are the first successful offspring of this species born at Brookfield Zoo. The pups’ mother, Charlotte, arrived in June 2012 from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska, while the father, Benny, joined the zoo family from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri, in August 2004.
“We are excited about the new additions and to be able to have guests see them up close,” said Andy Snider, curator of herps and aquatics for the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages the zoo. “Having the otters at the zoo allows us the opportunity to make a connection with our guests and to speak about the importance of preserving our natural ecosystems for this charismatic animal and other wildlife. Additionally, we are able to share how CZS is contributing to conservation efforts for the species, which is making a comeback in the Chicagoland area.”
Since 2015, CZS veterinary staff has worked collaboratively with the Forest Preserves of Cook County by surgically implanting transmitters in two otters that were captured and released by wildlife biologists. This has allowed the animals’ movements to be tracked and aid biologists in understanding what challenges the otters might be facing with regard to their habitats and to determine what, if anything, needs to done to promote their population within Cook County.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, North American river otters were extirpated from portions of their range primarily due to unregulated hunting, habitat destruction, and polluted waterways. In 1989, when the otter was listed as endangered in Illinois, it is estimated that fewer than 100 individuals existed in the state. A recovery plan was initiated in the early 1990s, and due to its success, the otter was delisted in 2004.
Those interested in helping care for the North American river otters at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Share the Care program. For $35, the recipient will receive the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of a North American river otter, a personalized adoption certificate, a fact sheet about the species, a Share the Care car decal, and an invitation to the 2017 Share the Care Evening. For further information, visit CZS.org/SharetheCare.
Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield. Admission to the zoo is $19.85 for adults and $14.50 for children 3 to 11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Parking is $12