National Zoo and Aquarium welcomes new otters

The National Zoo and Aquarium has some new residents - and they don't come much cuter than these three.

Boo, 12, and her two pups, Bal and Bel, who turn 5 today, arrived from Adelaide Zoo as a part of the regional and international breeding program for Asian small-clawed otters.

Laws in the ACT don't allow for otters to be bred here, so a few months ago our only Asian small-clawed otter, Patty, was sent to Perth as a part of the breeding program.

Zookeeper Renee Osterloh said the adorable family was is here to stay. They are settling in well, making the most of their new den, pool and water ways.

Asian small-clawed otters are not only the smallest of the sub-species of otter in the world, but are differentiated by their partially-webbed limbs and nimble fingers.

The otters can have a body length of anywhere between 41 to 64 centimetres when fully grown and can weigh up to 5 kilograms.

They are native to south-east asia, eating fish, crustaceans, shellfish, small land prey and eggs. They use their front paws to capture and eat food and are known to be very intelligent creatures indeed.

The species is listed as vulnerable to extinction as much of their habitat is being taken over by rice fields and they are being exposed to pollution.

In the wild these otters will usually live for about 11-16 years and up to about 20 years in captivity.

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