Tags: giant | river | otter | born | asia

Giant River Otter: Rare Species, First of Its Kind, Born in Asia (Video)

Tuesday, 08 Oct 2013 08:08 AM

By Michael Mullins

A giant river otter born in Wildlife Reserves Singapore is the first of its kind to be born in Asia.

The unnamed male pup, born on Aug. 10, weighs just over 3.5 pounds and is nearly two feet long. As an adult, the carnivorous mammal can reach a length of six feet and weigh more than seven pounds.

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Primarily found along South American rivers, the giant river otter is a member of the weasel family and is extremely rare. The population of giant river otters has diminished since the 1950s, when they were often targeted by poachers for their fur. At the same time, deforestation was destroying their natural habitats. 

Only several thousand are believed to still remain in the wild, according to National Geographic.

"With increasing threats such as habitat destruction and poaching, captive breeding programs play a pivotal role in conserving threatened species for our future generations," Wildlife Reserves Singapore chief Cheng Wen-Haur told the Straits Times.

As adorable as the baby otter appears, adult giant river otters are known as "river wolves" for their ferocious predatory behavior. They are known for hunting down and eating piranhas, anacondas and even caimans.

In the U.S., giant river otters can be found in the Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Jacksonville zoos as well as the Dallas World Aquarium, Miami Metroparks, and Moody Gardens.

The giant river otter pup wasn't the only baby born at Wildlife Reserves Singapore this year. There have been more than 400 animals born in the reserve in 2013, the Straits Times reported.

Other animals born in the reserve include threatened species such as the orangutan, manatee and Malayan tapir.

In the video below, giant otters take on a caiman.

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