Featured Image Credit: Columbus Zoo
With the recent ground-breaking births of a Pallas’ cat kitten and an Asian small-clawed otter pup, it’s been quite an exciting time at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium! The Pallas’ cat birth marked the second live offspring ever produced with artificial insemination in Pallas cats. The Asian small-clawed otter pup was the first of its species to be born at the zoo in 14 years!
The Columbus Zoo welcomed the arrival of Triton, the small otter pup, on May 17. It’s a special birth because the Asian small-clawed otter is considered a vulnerable species. They are native to coastal regions from southern India to Southeast Asia. But like many other vulnerable species, they are being threatened by habitat destruction, pollution and hunting. This places them at a risk in their native range, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
Triton’s mother, Asta, was born in 2008 and came to the Columbus Zoo from the Bronx Zoo in June 2014. His father, Oscar, was born in 2012 and came to the Columbus Zoo from Henry Doorly Zoo in 2014 as well. Both Asta and Oscar are a part of the Species Survival Plan, which enhances conservation of their species by maintaining a sustainable population of Asian small-clawed otters in human care.
Just recently, a Magellanic penguin born at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington was also a successful result of a Species Survival Plan. These species survival plans began in 1981 when the Association of Zoos and Aquariums saw a need for captive breeding programs to save threatened and endangered species worldwide.
The animal care specialists at Columbus Zoo have said that Triton has a “playful and independent personality” and that both parents have been very much involved in the care and nurturing of their young little pup. Over the next few months, Triton will begin his parent-led swimming lessons which means he will not be on view to the public just yet.
These extremely exciting births just go to show that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is fully committed to conservation initiatives, both locally and globally. These births also assist in maximizing genetic diversity, managing demographic distribution and help to further enhance the sustainability of species that are at risk or threatened in their native area.