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If you’ve spent any time watching the Zoos North American river otters or our Asian small-clawed otters, youve probably noticed that otters seem almost as home in the water as most fish. But, did you know that otters have to be taught how to swim? Otter pups arent born with any innate knowledge of how to swim or handle themselves in the water. And since otters depend on water to survive, mom has to teach her babies how to be as home in the water as they are on land.
In March, Audrey, the Zoos North American river otter female, gave birth to three healthy male pups. At around 30 days old, the pups are strong enough to begin their swimming lessons although sometimes, theyre not the most enthusiastic students much like kids everywhere.
But Audrey is a good mom and a patient, persistent teacher. She teaches each pup individually at first this allows her to focus her full attention on each pup and each lesson especially since its the first time the pups have been in the water. Audrey teaches the pups in stages making sure each pup is comfortable with one step before moving on to the next.
Typically, Audrey eases her pup into the water, then teaches him to float. After floating comes swimming, and the pups learn how to maneuver and swim, skills that are vital to their survival as adults. Once the pup is confident as a swimmer, Audrey teaches him to dive and move underwater. Then, she teaches each pup how to dry off and stay warm after a dip in the pool.