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View from the zoo: Baby Eurasian otter beating the odds

The female baby Eurasian otter named Kuneko. (Photo courtesy of Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia)

YOKOHAMA -- A female baby Eurasian otter hand raised by zookeepers here appears to be beating the odds and is doing well.

Kuneko is active and loves to play in rapid running water. However, the baby otter was only 10 centimeters long when she was born on Dec. 22, 2017, and we didn't know whether she would grow up without any problems.

Her mother Moko couldn't feed the baby properly soon after her birth, and the cries of the little otter became weak.

We were worried about how to handle the situation so we decided to nurture the otter ourselves.

There had been no successful cases in Japan of hand raising Eurasian otters in captivity prior to Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia's success in 2016.

A zookeeper feeds the female baby Eurasian otter named Kuneko. (Photo courtesy of Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia)

After we started to feed the pup every three hours, eight times a day, her temperature rose and she began to cry louder. We increased her amount of milk as she grew and controlled the temperature and the humidity inside the incubator, while taking naps next to the incubator. When the otter opened her eyes 33 days after birth it was unforgettable.

Kuneko has been on display to the public on scheduled days since April. I hope many visitors will come and see her.

(Japanese original by Sakura Ito, zookeeper at Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia)

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This article is part of a series in which keepers from the Hokkaido city of Asahikawa's Asahiyama Zoo, Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia in Kanagawa Prefecture and Toba Aquarium in Mie Prefecture share their daily experiences working with animals.

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