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River otter pups to make debut at Jacksonville Zoo Saturday

Endangered giant river otter pups first of their species born at zoo

photo by Morgan Purvis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four giant river otter pups will make their public debut at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. The three females and one male are the first of the endangered species to be born at the zoo.

The otter pups were born on June 18 and needed special care by zoo staff before they were ready to been seen by the public.

Zoo guests will be able to see them in the Range of the Jaguar exhibit starting Saturday.

The pups were born to 7-year-old mother Sarave and 11-year-old father Buddy. Sarave came to the Jacksonville Zoo last year from Miami and Buddy arrived from Guyana in 2011.  Buddy is blind, which makes these first offspring a huge success for the captive population, according to zoo officials.

"Breeding Buddy and Sarave has been a complex process, and I am so proud of the animal care team and all of their hard work. We are even more proud of the bond Buddy has formed with his pups and how he is caring for his family, even though he is unable to see them," said Deputy Director Dan Maloney. 

Giant river otters are endangered and the rarest mammal on the South American continent, facing threats from hunting and habitat loss. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has continued to support conservation and research in Guyana, including the vital work of University of Florida wildlife biologist Dr. Matt Hallett and programs at the Karanambu Lodge and Trust. Most recently, the zoo assisted with the restoration of the otter holding facility to care for three pups that came into their care.