L.A. Zoo Welcomes Litter of Endangered Giant Otter Pups

CONTACT: L.A. Zoo Press

July 15, 2015


Bright Beginnings For Animals And Children With ScholarShare Partnership

Giant Otter Pups PHOTO CREDIT: Tad Motoyama

Giant Otter Pups
PHOTO CREDIT: Tad Motoyama

The giant otter family at the Los Angeles Zoo’s Rainforest of the Americas habitat is thriving with the arrival of three pups born on March 28, 2015. The unnamed pups, two male and one female,
join their juvenile siblings born in September 2014, one male and one female, who were the first
babies to be born at the new, state-of-the-art Rainforest of the Americas habitat since it opened in
April 2014. The habitat was designed to house a large family group of these social, curious
animals, and Animal Care staff is pleased that the family has grown so fast.

“Historically, there has been a high infant mortality rate for giant otters in captivity,” said Jennie
Becker, Curator of Mammals at Los Angeles Zoo. “This could be due to a lot of different factors:
stress, outside noise, or the female not being confident. This new habitat at the Rainforest of the
Americas takes those factors into account and really gives the mother all of the opportunities she
needs to reproduce successfully, which she has twice now.”

The theme underlying Rainforest of the Americas, “Everything Has a Home,” calls attention to
the concept of home and what it means for the animals who live in these habitats. The giant otter
family continues to flourish in a home that was designed with their best interests in mind to
include a holding area that is temperature-controlled which comes in handy with newborns,
multiple nest boxes for resting and sleep which allows the family more options, and a landscape
that is a nice mix of water and land which allows the family sufficient room to explore and play.
The new habitat provides a more natural environment similar to what would be found in nature,
and these details have had a noticeable impact on the animal’s behaviors.

Baby Giant Otters and Mom PHOTO CREDIT: Tad Motoyama

Baby Giant Otters and Mom
PHOTO CREDIT: Tad Motoyama

“The two litters of pups born at the Rainforest of the Americas habitat are the first non-hand
reared giant otter babies we’ve ever had at the L.A. Zoo,” said Becker. “We weren’t really sure
what to expect from the parents since the female was hand-reared by Animal Care staff, but we’re
happy to see that the family group is doing very well. The juveniles are very watchful over their
new, younger siblings and are helping the parents teach the pups basic skills. This is how it would
be done in the wild.”

The giant otter is a South American mammal with exceptionally dark, dense fur, a flat, oar-like
tail, and webbed feet perfectly suited for a life in freshwater rivers and streams. The noisiest of the
otter species, their distinct vocalizations can be heard from far distances as they communicate
amongst their family members. Their diet in captivity consists mainly of different types of fish
like tilapia and catfish. This endangered species currently faces many obstacles in the wild due to
habitat destruction and degradation, poaching, and contact with humans. And while they are still a
rare sight in U.S. zoos, guests can now view L.A. Zoo’s family of giant otters and watch them
swimming and exploring in their habitat at Rainforest of the Americas daily, weather permitting.

In light of the recent additions, the Zoo is also pleased to announce a continued partnership with
the ScholarShare College Savings Plan, California’s official 529 plan. As families learn about the
Zoo’s most recent rare babies, parents can also learn how to begin planning their children’s future
from a very young age.

Giant Otter Pups Press Debut

Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 9:30 A.M.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Media staff should park in the Zoo’s south lot near the public bus circle, and a Zoo staff member will transport them to the Rainforest of the America’s giant otter habitat.

Giant Otter Pups Video Link: http://bit.ly/1DcjMd4
To RSVP or request additional photos, please call (323) 644-4273.

The ScholarShare College Savings Plan
The ScholarShare College Savings Plan provides families with a tax-advantaged way to save for their children’s education. Over the course of the next year, ScholarShare will provide opportunities for Zoo visitors to learn more about how they can begin planning for their child’s future with the ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan – with information available at selected Zoo events and information online. ScholarShare is a proud sponsor of the L.A. Zoo and supports a shared commitment to education. For more information, visit www.ScholarShare.com.

About the Los Angeles Zoo
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $19 for adults and $14 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo Web site at www.lazoo.org.

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