North Carolina Zoo Celebrates Release of 4 Orphaned Otter Pups

Watch them explore their new home!

Otter Pup
Photo: Facebook/North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo is celebrating the successful release of four of their cutest residents.

A group of four orphaned North American river otters were released back into the wild this month, after receiving care at the zoo's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

All four otter pups were rescued this spring. Three were found near the North Carolina coast, while the fourth otter was later taken in from the state's mountains. They were estimated to be 12 to 18 weeks old at the time and in good physical condition.

Otters typically stay with their mother for at least a year. Zoo staff was mostly hands-off with the pups in an effort to preserve their natural behaviors for their inevitable release back into the wild.

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After months of observation and support, the young otters were released together in an undisclosed location in Eastern North Carolina.

The zoo shared a video on Facebook (below) of the curious critters bobbing up and down in the water and getting acquainted with their new territory. "You otter see them exploring their new home," the video caption reads.

Releasing them as a group can boosts their chance of success, Halley Buckanoff, the Wildlife Center's veterinarian technician, explained in a news release.

"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."

Enjoy your freedom, little ones!

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