Otter-ly Fabulous triplets venture out at Yorkshire Wildlife Park
17th October 2022
An adorable set of giant otter triplets took their first steps out into their reserve at the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park this week.
The playful trio plunged into their pool for a swim and rolled around on the grass under the watchful gaze of parents Alexandra and Orimar.
The giant otter pups, who were born in July, have yet to be named but their character shone out and they are expected to be favourites for visitors to the 300-acre park at Branton, near Doncaster
Big sister Bonita was on hand to make sure the triplets, part a European breeding programme for the species, saw everything on offer at the home. Giant otters are endangered in their native habitat in the Amazon basin across South America, where numbers are estimated at around 2,000 – 5,000 individuals. Threatened by pollution, poaching, habitat loss and dropping fish stocks due to overfishing, these sociable and noisy animals are the largest of the otter species, reaching up to 1.8 m in length. Known as the River Wolf, the giant otter has been known to take on some of the Amazon’s more feared animals such as caiman, anaconda and piranha.
"We’re delighted that the triplets are now learning to swim and it has been great to see the new arrivals playing together in their lake,” said Animal Manager Rick Newton.’ It is lovely that the three youngsters can grow up together. Their parents and big sister are doing an amazing job at showing them the ropes too – they are very sociable and have all been playing together in the reserve.”
Alexandra and Orimar arrived at the park in 2019 as part of a programme to help protect the species that is endangered in its native Amazonian rain forests by deforestation, water pollution and hunting.
Bonita became the first giant otter cub born at the park on Boxing Day 2020 and the triplets have boosted the family.
The Wildlife Foundation, which is the charity based at the park, has been instrumental in establishing projects to protect at-risk giant otter populations in Brazil, which have helped save the species from the brink of extinction in the rain forest.
But the species remains under threat and the Foundation is working closely with Instituto Araguaia in Brazil on a three year sustainability project to protect giant otters’ habitat and breeding sites.
The project, which runs anti-poaching patrols, helps teach 300 underprivileged school children about conservation and provides essential job training to unemployed young local adults who are at risk of being lured into poaching.
"We are delighted to continue supporting this new three-year project to build on our successes to date,” said Wildlife Foundation Trustee Cheryl Williams. ‘It is important we carry on the work to protect this key Amazon species. Despite all that has been done, and populations have increased since the low of 300 in the 1980’s, Giant Otters remain at risk. The Foundation has been able to carry out this work thanks to the generosity of visitors and let’s hope that more people are inspired to support our work when they see the delightful family playing together at the park.“