Puppy love at Exploris

Exploris Aquarium are delighted to announce the exciting arrival of a new Asian Small-Claw Otter pup, the first to be bred in captivity in Northern Ireland

Exploris Aquarium are delighted to announce the exciting arrival of a new Asian Small-Claw Otter pup, the first to be bred in captivity in Northern Ireland

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Exploris Aquarium are delighted to announce the exciting arrival of a new Asian Small-Claw Otter pup, the first to be bred in captivity in Northern Ireland.

Sungari and Bourbon, Exploris’s two captive-bred Asian Otters, gave birth to the currently unnamed and unsexed pup on 15th December 2016 and it has been kept under wraps to protect the new born and ensure Sungari and Bourbon settle into their new family group.

Their rarity means that we have had to make a few precautions to ensure a successful gestation period – approximately 68-74 days – which has included minimising noise and visitor traffic surrounding the otter enclosure. As the pup gains more confidence he or she will be more visible here at Exploris in the comings days and weeks.

Victoria McCready, Head of animal welfare and husbandry, Exploris

Small-Claw Asian Otters (Aonyx cinerea) form monogamous partnerships with the opposite sex and, much like human beings, share parental duties. Together they build and maintain a nest as well as feeding and attending to their young with which they form a close bond.

The arrival of the new pup at Exploris is particularly poignant since the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) officially lists the species as ‘vulnerable’ due to loss of habitat, the fur trade and pollution caused by humans.

Victoria McCready, head of animal welfare and husbandry, says: “Their rarity means that we have had to make a few precautions to ensure a successful gestation period – approximately 68-74 days – which has included minimising noise and visitor traffic surrounding the otter enclosure. As the pup gains more confidence he or she will be more visible here at Exploris in the comings days and weeks.”

As mid term is upon us, and as part of the NI Science Festival, Exploris is hosting a variety of The Natural World events, including Friday 17th February at 6.30pm, The Sea a Night, with a guided tour and guest speaker, Professor Jaimie Dick (QUB) who will share ongoing research on how our natural world is changing through human intervention, particularly the spread of alien/invasive species and followed by a supper (£15.00 and suitable for 18+).

Other events over the weekend (18th and 19th February) include microscopy workshop, marine experiments and talks on animal adaptations and dissection demonstrations, so check out our website for age suitability, times and admission charges and make the most of the mid term break.

Exploris general manager, Ann Moreland commented: “We have been delighted with our visitors numbers, which to date have exceeded 80,000, and feedback has been extremely positive both in terms of the visitor experience and also the economic benefit to Portaferry and the surrounding region.

“Preparations are well underway for the new season which with further investment by our operators, AEL, a new themed Soft Play Zone and exciting new educational and conversation story boards have been installed.

“Our new educational programme for KS1-KS4 is now available and already dates are booked in through to Sept/October, so we are extremely pleased about that.

“Furthermore, an events programme will run across the year and we can of course host birthday parties, and special events, while our retail gift range has significantly expanded to meet our visitors request and of course we’re open daily from 10am.”

Follow the progress of our resident otter family on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; for more information as well as photographs and updates visit explorisni.com.