Baby Otters at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo!

Baby Otters at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo!

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of two otter pups.

The Asian small clawed otters were born April 30 to first-time parents, mom Lakena and dad Jay. They are strong, healthy and beginning to emerge from the family den. The pups are about half the size of their parents.

Otter pups remain in their den for at least six weeks after birth, at which point the parents begin to take them out to start swimming lessons. The babies are now more easily viewable by zoo visitors and we encourage you to come watch the antics of the newest additions to our zoo family.

The best time to view the pups is early morning, late afternoon, or during cloudy or rainy weather.

“Their whole exhibit turns to mud when it rains and they love to play in it,” said Kyle O’Dea, a zoo technology student from Clinton, Ill.

As visitors watched on Monday morning, the otters spent time outside with their parents and later poked their tiny paws out the door of their nesting box.

“When it’s cool and raining, they may spend the whole day outside,” said Brett Bartek of Ft. Myers.

Asian small clawed otters are listed as vulnerable. They live in lower altitude habitats, along rivers, streams and wetlands, in areas with trees. Asian small clawed otters climb trees and have been spotted in trees within their enclosure at the zoo.

“They are not endangered or threatened yet, but if trends in the wild continue, they could be,” said Jonathan Miot, assistant director of the Teaching Zoo.

Four of the zookeeping students are trainers who work consistently with the otters.

“You have to be very careful when you’re training them that they don’t end up training you,” said Christina Maffeo, from Key Largo. “They’re extremely vocal and responsive. The more enthusiastic and energetic we are, the more they seem to respond to us.”

Emi Willows, a zookeeping student from Farmborough, England, said the pups are a delight to watch.

“They swim around their pond,” she said. “They love the tube in their enclosure. They run in and out. They make little snorts at us. The adults do it, too, but it’s cuter when they do it.”

The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo is located on the Northwest campus at 3000 NW 83rd St. in Gainesville. The zoo is open every day from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Please call for an appointment on weekdays. Admission for adults ages 13-59 is $4; children ages 4-12 and adults ages 60 and up, $3; and SFC students and staff with ID are admitted for free.

For more information, visit the zoo online at or call 352-395-5601.


  • Jonathan Miot, assistant director, Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, 395-5602 or
  • Julie Garrett, for help facilitating your story, 395-5430 or 870-2924 (cell) or