New Baby Otters Thriving at Edmonton Valley Zoo
July 19, 2011
Mother dies of complications related to malignant liver cancer
Three North American river otter babies born April 9 are ready to be introduced to the world. But their arrival is tinged with sadness after their mother died from complications related to rapid onset malignant liver cancer. The male pups, now just over three months old, are healthy and very active.
“Otters are such fun animals to watch. These little guys are still shy but are coming out to play more often allowing people to observe them,” said Zookeeper Brenda McComb. “They are just learning to swim and we have decreased the amount of water in their exhibit to help them stay safe.”
Cypress, the babies’ mother, died on July 12 while undergoing a complete physical examination. A post-mortem revealed she had liver cancer which had spread to her lungs and contributed to acute heart failure. Cypress was estimated to be between eight and nine years old. North American river otters typically live to be 8.5 years old in the wild.
Cypress arrived at the zoo in June 2010, and gave birth about 10 months later. Baby otters can be born up to a year after mating until the mother feels she is in a safe and supportive environment.
“Cypress showed amazing strength to nurture three babies while coping with a serious illness,” said Edmonton Valley Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Milton Ness. “She raised a great trio of pups and we will honour her spirit by ensuring they receive the best care possible.”
Cypress’ three babies will be gradually introduced to the zoo’s other otter, Bryer. The pups weigh about 2 kg each, the upper end of the weight chart for otters their age. They have yet to be named.
Construction of a new otter habitat, entrance, education centre and a trail system called the Wander is currently underway, and is one of several construction projects transforming the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Once completed in 2013, the new otter habitat will be one of the first things visitors see when they arrive at the zoo. The otters will welcome visitors and entertain those out for a walk or jog in the river valley.
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