Exploris Aquarium & Seal Sanctuary are currently celebrating their third otter litter, which is the largest they’ve welcomed to date.
On the 26th June Asian Short Clawed Otter, Sungari, gave birth to 4 healthy pups. Now 5 weeks old the news had been kept under wraps to protect the new born and ensure that all otters settled into their new family group.
Sungari began her labour in the early hours of the 26th June and had successfully delivered 3 pups by 9am when staff arrived on site.
“Looking in that morning Sungari looked so content, all cuddled up with the 3 babies in her straw nest” describes Curator Pete Williams. “After initially checking on the family we retrieved the families breakfast and on returning realized Sungari was not finished having her babies.” Otter number 4 arrived just before 2.30pm
Small-Claw Asian Otters form monogamous partnerships and much like human beings, share parental duties. Together they build and maintain a nest as well as feeding and attending to their young with which they form a close bond.
Sungari’s first 2 litters of just 1 pup each time were delivered in the winter with their eldest, a female called Brunei, born in December 2016 and a 9 month old Yalu, a male, born in October 2017.
It was during the early days of the litter that it was discovered that Brunei is actually a female. Originally thought to be a male, Brunei began to bed down with the pups with staff identifying the mix-up very quickly.
The new additions to the otter family are made up of 3 females and 1 male. Following their 5 week health checks the pups will soon be making their outside debut. When this will happen curator Pete is unsure. “The pups have only just opened their eyes so will take some time to adjust to their surroundings. I’m sure in a few weeks they will venture outside, whether its Sungari’s choosing or not. She will certainly have her hands full”.
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Exploris Aquarium, located in Portaferry, opens daily from 10am to 5pm, with last admission at 4pm. Pre-book your tickets online to avail of discounted admission.