Kevin, Asian Small-clawed Otter

January 19, 2023

Lincoln Park Zoo is happy to announce that an 11-year-old male Asian small-clawed otter named Kevin can now be seen at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House.

Kevin has joined 2-year-old female Namiko in a newly renovated habitat that features a den and a natural landscape with dirt and live plants, plus a pool for these little otters to explore. Small-clawed otters are the smallest otter species and the one that spends the most time on land, although they are well adapted to water, so Animal Care staff made sure they have plenty of enrichment opportunities inside their new digs.

The otters were recommended for pairing by a Species Survival Plan®. Both came to the zoo late last year, but Namiko was introduced to the habitat in late November. Small-clawed otters are social animals, so it’s good to see them together at last!

Perhaps you’ll even be able to hear some of their vocalizations as they get to know each other. These otters have at least 12 different types of calls that help them make contact, summon one another, greet other individuals, convey threats, and sound alarms.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes Asian small-clawed otters as Vulnerable. Their populations are declining in the wild, even though they have a relatively large range. They rely on wetland habitats across Southeast Asian that are being destroyed by human activity. They are also affected by poaching for the pet trade and by “otter cafes” that are prevalent in Japan and Thailand. The animals they consume as prey—crustaceans, mollusks, and fish—are also being decimated by water pollution.

To date, Namiko has been shy about showing herself to visitors, but hopefully you now can stop by and catch a glimpse of both otters exploring their new habitat.

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