There is a new addition at the Denver Zoo! The zoo has welcomed a two-year-old North American river otter named Ahanu (Ah-hah-new) to be a companion for long-time resident male Otto.
Ahanu was born at California’s Oakland Zoo in February 2011 and arrived at Denver Zoo in March 2013. His arrival has brought a youthful energy to the exhibit and he has been a playful pal for 15-year-old Otto. Otto’s long-time yard mate, Ariel, died of age-related symptoms in October 2012 at almost 19-years-old. North American river otters live an average of 20 years of age in zoos.
Otters play more than most wild animals. They have been observed wrestling, chasing other otters, diving for rocks and clamshells, swimming with pebbles or other small objects balanced on their noses, toying with live prey and sliding down mud banks or snow banks. “Play” activities actually serve a purpose – they are used to strengthen social bonds, practice hunting techniques and scent mark territories.