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Potter Park Zoo welcomes two North American river otter pups

North American river otter Nkeke is a new mom following the birth of two pups Sunday, February 9 at Lansing's Potter Park Zoo.

The two pups are the second successful birth for Nkeke and otter dad Miles.

“It has been an eventful winter at Potter Park Zoo with the birth of Jaali, an eastern black rhino, and now two North American river otters.  We are excited to share these births with the community as we celebrate our centennial,” said Cynthia Wagner, Potter Park Zoo Director.

On the pup’s second day of life, Dr. Ronan Eustace, Potter Park Zoo Director of Animal Health and Adjunct Professor at Michigan State University, performed the pups first veterinary exam.

“The pups look healthy and are nursing regularly. One pup weighed in at 106 grams and the other at 118 grams. We will continue to monitor Nkeke and the pups closely over the next couple of months,” said Dr. Eustace.

Nkeke arrived at Potter Park Zoo in the fall of 2016 from Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island. The North American River Otter Species Survival Plan (SSP) by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommended that Nkeke pair with Miles, the father of the new pups, who was the first otter pup born at the zoo in 2013.

Otter pups are born with fur on their bodies and their eyes closed. Their eyes will open around 10 days old and they will begin swimming lessons from mom sometime after they’re a month old.  

Zoo visitors can see father Miles on exhibit now, but won’t be able to see Nkeke or the pups for a few months.

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Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.
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