JENKS, OK -- It's time for a baby shower, or rather a splash, at the Oklahoma Aquarium. A one-month-old North American River Otter baby, or pup, is taking its first public steps and swimming with mama otter's help.
The pup and female and male pair are part of the Hayes Family Ozark Stream which just opened this past March, and is the Oklahoma Aquarium's first exhibit to feature mammals. Biologists knew the male and female otter had mated, but weren't sure about the pregnancy until recent weeks.
On September 26th, biologists were on high alert, as the female exhibited behavior of going into labor and then remained in her den for an extended length of time. Otters can be very defensive, so it was with great caution that Aquarium staff peered into the den and verified a baby had been born. It has just been in the last few days that the mother otter started bringing the baby out of the den.
For the safety of the baby, modifications have been made to the exhibit including guards along high areas. The guards are also helping to shield the male otter. It is normal for mother otters to be extremely protective of their offspring. The female becomes very aggressive toward the male warning him that his curiosity will have to wait.
Curiosity over the pup's gender will also have to wait. It may be a full year before biologists can identify if the baby is a male or female.