Lincoln Park Zoo is proud to announce the arrival of a rare species—the antlered otter. Native to the frosty northern regions of China, this aquatic mammal has not yet been exhibited in a North American zoo.
The lone female, to reside at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo once it clears quarantine, was discovered in New York as a stowaway on a freighter from the Far East. She was turned over to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which determined that Lincoln Park Zoo was the best destination for her.
Those titular antlers, found only on the females, are used in aggressive head-butting matches to determine rank and win the right to breed males, which is unusual as with most species males battle for breeding rights.
Female antlered otters also use that oversized headgear to dig through riverside banks in search of snowy mollusks and ice clams, which they pry open with special ridges located atop their antlers.
While the antlers might seem most impressive, this species has another amazing adaptation. Both males’ and females’ tails can omit whistling sounds when held aloft, which antlered otters use to perform group songs during their mating season in early April.