Zoo Chat | ‘Treasured son’ legacy left with Otter pup birth

Zoo keepers and staff at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are delighted with the special arrival of an Oriental Small-clawed Otter pup, born on February 20, 2018.

The male baby was born to mother Emiko and father Pocket, and has been thoughtfully named ‘Tomio’. Tomio means ‘treasured son’ in Japanese, a name of the same origin as his mother’s, ‘Emiko’.

The significance of his name comes from the fact that Tomio is the last pup to be sired by adult male, Pocket, who sadly passed away late last year from fatal heart and lung complications. Pocket’s legacy has been left in Tomio, who will help his genetics to live on. This is the fourth litter for Tomio’s mother, eight-year-old Emiko.

Being from a one-pup litter (also called a ‘singleton’), Tomio is enjoying the best of care from his mother, as well as his two older sisters. At just two months of age, he weighed in at an impressive 712 grams, an above average weight for his age according to keepers and veterinary staff!

Tomio has had a number of veterinary and health checks and each time shows he is in great health and wonderful condition for an Otter pup. He has started mouthing solids like fish and we expect he will start to eat in the coming weeks. Tomio will continue to drink milk from his mother until up to four months of age.

Keepers report Tomio has advanced behaviours for a two-month-old pup, possibly due to the fact he is a singleton. Already his mother and sisters are showing him the ropes with strict swimming lessons.

Being thrown in the deep end (literally) can often be the best way to learn, and Tomio is taught the very important skill of swimming by being pushed into the water by the other Otters! He’s an active pup and often follows his mother and siblings around, with his coordination constantly improving.

Visitors can spot Tomio and his family at the Oriental Small-clawed Otter exhibit.

About Oriental Small-Clawed Otters: The Oriental Small-clawed Otter is a semiaquatic mammal native to South and Southeast Asia and is the smallest of the 13 Otter species. An adult is typically less than a metre long (nose to tail tip) and weighs up to five kilograms. They are well adapted to aquatic life with a long, streamlined body, short limbs, webbed feet, waterproof fur and a tapering tail. Sadly, this species is listed as Vulnerable (IUCN, 2015) through population decline due to habitat loss and exploitation. Taronga Western Plains Zoo has four Oriental Small-clawed Otters.

Taronga’s Otters are proudly sponsored by Otterbox.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is open every day of the year. School holidays opening hours are 8.30am – 4.00pm. Discounted rates are available for local residents – head to taronga.org.au/dubbolocals.