By WECT Staff | May 27, 2020 at 9:29 AM EDT – Updated May 27 at 10:41 AM
ASHEBORO, N.C. (WECT) – The North Carolina Zoo is caring for three recently orphaned North American river otter pups as they prepare them for their release back into the wild.
The three otters are estimated to be 12-to-18 weeks old and are in the care of the zoo’s Valerie H. Schindler Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
“We are caring for them as hands-off as possible because we want to preserve their natural behaviors to ensure they have a better chance of surviving in the wild,” Dr. Jb Minter, the zoo’s Director of Animal Health.
Releasing the otters as a group also can boost their chance of success, said Halley Buckanoff, the Wildlife Center’s veterinarian technician.
“Creating these foster families allows them to socialize with their species, and the younger ones often learn from their older ‘siblings,’” Buckanoff said. “Right now, they’re sleeping together, eating alongside each other with no signs of competition, and swimming together. They’re doing great as a group.”
The first otter was rescued in a parking lot in Raeford in Hoke County on May 2 by A Wild Life: Center for Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release. The female otter, who is estimated to be 14 to 16 weeks old, arrived at the zoo on May 12.
The other two otters, both males, were rescued by Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter in Newport in Carteret County. They arrived at the zoo on May 13.
One of the otters, who is around six weeks old, was found in the Peletier area on April 25 in the roadway after heavy rain.
The third otter, about eight weeks old, was found April 27 near the Cedar Island Bridge. The body of his mother, who had been hit by a car, was found nearby.
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