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Auckland Zoo otter Jin on the move



14 August 2006

Auckland Zoo otter Jin on the move

Auckland Zoo otter Jin is being flown to Christchurch tomorrow to take up residence at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

The four-year-old female, recaptured on Rangitoto Island in early July following her month-long adventure out of the Zoo, is being paired up with five-year-old male otter Jala.

The two Asiatic short-clawed otters are part of the Australasian captive breeding programme for this species, and it is hoped that they will successfully breed.

Jin has been in quarantine for the past month, where veterinary staff and keepers have been monitoring her closely. A full-health check carried out just over a week ago has confirmed she is "fighting fit".

"We're delighted with her progress,” says Auckland Zoo senior vet, Dr Richard Jakob-Hoff. “She is now back to her normal weight, her head wound and the cuts and abrasions to her feet have all healed, her blood tests and x-rays are all clear, and she’s showing plenty of attitude!”

"Jin is certainly a very resilient and feisty little otter. However, she is still quite shy and nervous, most likely because she is missing the company of other otters, and would feel more secure in their company. Hopefully her new beau will take care of that," says Dr Jakob-Hoff.

Plans for Auckland Zoo to send two of its seven female otters to other facilities were in place prior to Jin’s escape. In addition to Jin’s move, a second female will be relocated to Wellington Zoo later in the year.

"Integrating Jin back into the group was always going to be risky, due to the amount of time she’s been away from them, and it would have been a very long slow process,” says Auckland Zoo curator, Brooke Noonan.

“Genetically she’s a valuable breeding female, so the best outcome for her, and the region, is for her to go to Willowbank," says Auckland Zoo Curator, Brooke Noonan.

“And it seems appropriate, that following her big adventure that she now settles down to have a family,” she said.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is excited about Jin's arrival.

"Although Willowbank has had breeding pairs of otters in the past, in the last few years we have only had a bachelor group," says head exotic keeper Lance Dartnall.

"Now Willowbank will be home to the only Asiatic short-clawed otter pair in the South Island. Jala has been at the bottom of the pecking order in this bachelor group, so it will be wonderful opportunity for both these character otters to have company," says Mr Dartnall.


Auckland Zoo is home to the largest collection of native and exotic wildlife species in New Zealand (over 1900 animals and 200 species) and attracts over half a million visitors annually. It is becoming increasingly well known nationally and internationally through the award-winning television programme, 'The Zoo'. At the heart of all Auckland Zoo's work and activities is its MISSION: "to focus the Zoo’s resources to benefit conservation and provide exciting visitor experiences which inspire and empower people to take positive action for wildlife and the environment". Auckland Zoo is a member of both the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria (ARAZPA) and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).

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