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River Otter From Texas Brought to Oakland Zoo For Breeding Program

The river otter was brought from Abilene Zoo in Texas to pair up with the female river otters at the Oakland Zoo as part of their breeding program.

Wyatt, a North American river otter, has made Oakland Zoo his new home. Photo provided by Oakland Zoo
Wyatt, a North American river otter, has made Oakland Zoo his new home. Photo provided by Oakland Zoo
Information from the Oakland Zoo:

Wyatt, a North American river otter, has made Oakland Zoo his new home. The four-year otter relocated to Oakland from the Abilene Zoo in Texas, where he was given a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  Zookeepers are thrilled to have a new male otter to pair up with females, Ginger (seven years old) and Rose (two years old).

“Oakland Zoo has been very successful at breeding, so we continue to breed to maintain genetics in the captive population,” said Zoological Manager Margaret Rousser. “We are very happy to have Wyatt joining our otter group.  We think he will be a great mate, so that we can continue to be one of the leading zoos breeding otters in captivity.”

River otters are not considered endangered, but their habitat in the wild is shrinking. Otters are extremely susceptible to environmental pollution, so the absence of otters is an indication that the waterways are unhealthy.

River otters actually spend two-thirds of their time on land, yet eat mostly fish, crayfish, frogs, turtles, and other aquatic invertebrates. At Oakland Zoo, the river otters are very active and playful.

They eat 500 grams of fish or meat daily, which is about one pound of food. To keep things exciting, zookeepers use puzzle feeders, pool toys, frozen treats, and enrichment items to keep the otters curious and occupied throughout each day. The otters take naps on and off during daylight hours and have a daily feeding time of 1:15pm.

Fish is by far their most favorite food. Otters breed in late winter to spring but the embryos only develop to the blastocyst stage and then they stop developing further until about 9-10 months later.

Once they start to develop again, gestation is 68-74 days. This type of process is known as delayed implantation. If breeding goes as expected, otter pups may be born at Oakland Zoo in spring of 2016

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