Potter Park Zoo Welcomes Trio of North American River Otter Pups 

Potter Park Zoo is thrilled to announce the arrival of three adorable North American river otter pups born to experienced mother Nkeke Friday, Feb. 2 – nearly two years after her last litter. This marks Nkeke’s fourth litter and her second set of triplets. 

At just one day old, the otter pups underwent a quick physical examination to assess their health and development. Weighing in at 113 grams, 109 grams, and 96 grams respectively, these little bundles of fur weighed as much as a deck of playing cards. While initial examinations look promising, Potter Park Zoo’s Director of Animal Health, Dr. Ronan Eustace, acknowledges the challenges associated with raising triplets. 

“Triplets can be demanding for otter mothers,” noted Dr. Eustace. “We’re cautiously optimistic that Nkeke will be able to care for all three without the need for veterinary intervention.” 

Under the watchful eyes of the zoo’s animal care team, the otter pups have been nursing regularly and will continue to be closely monitored over the coming months to ensure their healthy growth and development. 

Nkeke, originally from the Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island, has been a beloved resident of Potter Park Zoo since 2016. She shares her habitat with Miles, the father of the otter pups, who was born at the zoo in 2013. As part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Nkeke and Miles were selected to breed, resulting in the birth of ten pups to date. 

Delayed implantation is a fascinating trait shared by approximately 100 mammal species, including river otters. It involves the fertilized egg remaining dormant in the uterus for an indefinite period before implantation occurs. For river otters, this dormancy phase can extend up to 273 days before gestation begins, typically lasting around 60 days once implantation occurs. 

Otter pups are born with a full coat of fur but take about five weeks to open their eyes. They begin playing at around six weeks and receive swimming lessons shortly after. As Nkeke assumes the sole responsibility for rearing her pups behind the scenes, visitors to the zoo can still visit Miles on exhibit. 

“We’re otterly overjoyed to welcome our newest otter trio to the zoo” said Zookeeper Carolyn Schulte. “Nkeke is an incredible mom, and she and her pups are doing well. We’re eagerly awaiting the chance to introduce these adorable otter pups to our wonderful community.” 

Nkeke and her offspring will be visible to the public this summer. Stay connected with Potter Park Zoo through our social media channels for updates on the adorable otter 

family. And don’t forget to participate in our upcoming naming contest to help us choose the perfect names for these precious additions to our zoo family!