ISE, Mie -- Two baby cape clawless otters born here in April went on public display at Ise Sea Paradise at the end of last month and an exhibit where visitors can feed the pups and interact with them also opened on Aug. 4.
The two male otter pups were born to father Vuvuzela (estimated to be 7 years old) and mother Zuri, 9. The pups were weak immediately after birth and they became the first cape clawless otters to be raised by humans in Japan.
In place of their mother, their 41-year-old keeper Shinobu Onoda was in charge of keeping an eye on even the smallest changes in their health. She would take them home with her, and after being weaned from the bottle, she began feeding them minced horse mackerel. Now, the otters have grown to roughly 65 centimeters in body length.
"It was a bit of a struggle because there was no precedent," said Onoda. "I paid special attention to their health. These two have a strong will to live."
The special exhibition where guests can try their hand at feeding and caring for the otters runs until Aug. 31. The time slots are from 9:10 a.m. and 12:40 p.m., with a limit of two guests, high school-aged or older, for each slot. The cost is 1,000 yen per person. Participation is on a first-come-first-serve basis, and guests can make a reservation at the park's ticket office.