Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 at 3:06 pm in Family Outings.
Awwwwwwwww! She’s soooooo cuuuute!!! Just looking at the newest addition to the Monterey Bay Aquarium makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. The aquarium just put the freshwater African spotted-neck otter pup, born Sept. 27, and her mom on display in the Wild About Otters exhibit and is sponsoring a contest to help give her a name.
The pup is the third African spotted-necked otter born at the aquarium. Two other female pups – Kazana (KAH-ZAH-NAH) and Ajabu (AH-JAH-BOO), were born to parents Neema (NEE-MAH) and Denny (DEN-EE) on Nov. 3, 2006.
Visit the aquarium’s Web site to participate in the contest. Visitors are being asked to vote for one of three Swahili names: Shani, (SHAH-NEE) meaning “curiosity” or “adventure” since the young pup enjoys exploring her surroundings; Ziwa, (ZEE-WAH) meaning “lake” or “pond” for the African spotted-necked otters’ love of their watery habitats; and Nukta, (NEWK-TA) meaning “dot” because of a white spot of fur on the pup’s head. Voting ends on Dec. 31 at 5 p.m. The aquarium will announce the results of the contest and the new pup’s name in the first week of January.
This exhibit is a great place to take kids. It just opened last March, and these types of otters are known for being extremely playful and fun to watch. The pup and mom Kamili are separated from dad Kipenzi, who has been moved behind the scenes and will join the family again sometime within the next few months. In the wild, females typically do most of the pup rearing, with a normal litter consisting of one to three pups.
The first several months are critical in assuring a pup’s survival. At three to four weeks old, an African spotted-necked pup’s eyes and ears open; up until that point they rely only on their sense of smell to find their mother. At two months, the pup begins to learn how to swim and the mother starts teaching them how to hunt. By three to four months, river otter pups are weaned and rely on solid foods for their energy and hone their hunting skills until they leave and become independent at 1 year old, but stay near their family for another year or so.
The otter exhibit is scheduled to run into 2010. The exhibit highlights how freshwater otters — just like the popular sea otters at the aquarium, and people around the world — need clean water to thrive.