Zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have introduced two newly-arrived Asian short-clawed otters to each other in the hopes that they will start their own family – and are delighted that the pair are otterly inseparable already.
Six-year-old Ernie and two-year-old Carol arrived at Whipsnade Zoo separately two weeks ago as part of a breeding programme for the South Asian species, designated by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) as Vulnerable in the wild.
Ernie travelled from Crocodiles of the World, in the Cotswolds, and Carol travelled from Peak Wildlife Park in the Peak District.
Team leader Graeme Williamson said: “We carefully introduced Ernie and Carol to each other in their separate crates as soon as they arrived and they clearly took an instant liking to each other - when we checked on them the following morning we found them snoozing together, snuggled up in their den.
“They've been very happy together ever since, so hopefully we’ll hear the pitter patter of tiny paws very soon!”
Ernie and Carol have spent the past two weeks exploring their new home on Otter Island, which has a flowing stream and lush riverbanks for the pair to play in – lucky visitors will be able to spot the new otters during pre-booked trips to the UK’s largest zoo this summer.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo reopened to the public on Monday, June 15, after three months of closure due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The loss of income put the charity zoo under huge financial pressure as they continued to provide the highest level of care for their animals.
Now open to limited numbers only, ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoo, is calling on the public to help ensure they stay open by booking a ticket, joining as a member or donating to ZSL at www.zsl.org/justgiving.