Five baby otters have been thrown in at the deep end while being taught how to swim by their parents at Chester Zoo.
Mum Annie and dad Wallace took their new pups for a debut dip in water after emerging from their dens with them for the first time since the quintet were born in mid-July.
The new litter of Asian short-clawed otters, which currently weigh between 450g and 612g, is made up of two boys and three girls - all yet to be named by their keepers. It is the first litter for Annie and Wallace.
Fiona Howe, assistant otter team manager at the zoo, said:
Asian short-clawed otters, which are found in various parts of Asia from India to the Philippines and China, are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable to extinction. Experts believe the species is likely to soon become endangered unless the circumstances increasing the threat to its survival improve.
Sarah Roffe, otter team manager, added:
As well as a successful record with breeding exotic otter species, Chester Zoo has also helped fund research and conservation projects in Cheshire to monitor and safeguard native otter populations which are distant relations of the Asian short-clawed species.
Asian short-clawed otter facts
- The pups were born on 8 JulyMum Annie is two years old (born 5 Sept 2014)
- Dad Wallace is aged four (born 31 Jan 2013)
- The new pups are welcome addition to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, a carefully managed scheme overseeing the breeding of zoo animals in different countries
- Each of the pups is developing well and are a good weight for their age – the smallest currently coming in at 450g with the largest tipping the scales at 612g
- The species is also sometimes to referred to as the Oriental small-clawed otter, or small-clawed otter
- As their name suggests, they have short but very flexible, sensitive claws, useful for digging, climbing and also for grabbing and holding on to prey
- They are the smallest of all otters and in the wild live in small groups across Asia from India and Nepal to the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand
- They mainly eat crabs, other water creatures and fish