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Otters multiply at Wellington Zoo

23 March 2005

Otters multiply at Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo’s Otter, Yang is no longer going solo with the introduction of two new male Otter friends, Jak’ura and Oscar.

From Auckland Zoo and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve respectively, Jak’ura and Oscar were also alone in their enclosures.

Wellington Zoo Keeper, Rebekah Turner says “Otters are social animals, so Auckland Zoo, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and Wellington Zoo decided it would be better if the Otters were together in one location”.

“We really wanted to house the Otters and we have the facilities to do so, especially with Yang’s large pool, so we were the lucky ones in getting all three Otters”.

Preparation for the Otters move to their new hang-out was no mean feat with Yang’s enclosure needing to be ‘de-scented’ in order for all three Otters to have a fair start at scent marking their enclosure together.

Rebekah describes the scent marking process as an important step in territory establishment. “They’ll scent mark around their nest boxes to warn each other off their respective areas”.

Not withstanding the fact that the introduction process began while the Otters were in quarantine on neutral territory, visitors to the Zoo may experience the Otters enforcing their territories in their new enclosure by making loud squeaking noises, with the occasional physical altercation.

All three Otters have very distinct personalities and the Zoo anticipates that over the next few weeks alliances and the group hierarchy will change on a regular basis.

Yang, nearly three years old and born at Wellington Zoo, is still developing the social skills necessary to live in a group situation. Jak’ura, who was hand-raised at Auckland Zoo, enjoys interacting with the keepers and has a strong personality. Oscar is a real character. “When he was in Willowbank, he managed to get out of his enclosure and walk across the Zoo to an eel tank where he stole an eel which he presented to his female partner” says Rebekah.

Wellington Zoo has been home to Otters since the 1970’s and until recently, had held two Otters, Yang and Poppa until the arrival of the latest additions, Jak’ura and Oscar.


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