A wildlife park in the U.K. welcomed a "surprise" litter of otter triplets. Giant otters are endangered and the Yorkshire Wildlife Park now has more giant otters than any other zoo or wildlife park in the world.
The triplets' parents, Alexandra and Orimar, welcomed three other babies in February 2022.
Their new litter was born on March 27, the park announced on Tuesday. The babies are being monitored by the wildlife team and their mom, called Alex, is "very relaxed" and an experienced mother — it's her third time giving birth.
The oldest sibling in the family, Bonita, has now taken over the role of looking after the triplets born last year while their mom looks after the new litter. "She will keep a careful eye on the pups as they start exploring. At the moment, they are mainly staying indoors," Aquatics Team Leader Kelsie Wood said in a statement.
"Giant otters don't always breed easily and every birth is a significant and valuable one for the breeding program," Wood said.
The new litter is a "testament to our commitment to the conservation of endangered species, and we believe these pups will inspire our visitors to learn more about these incredible animals," Wood continued.
There are an estimated 5,000 giant otters worldwide, according to the park. Poaching and threats to their environments caused their population to decrease and they were listed as endangered in 1990.
They are poached for their meat and fur, which is waterproof, and hunting of this species was banned in 1973, according to the U.K.'s WildLife Foundation.
They typically live in the Amazon rainforest and usually have three to eight members in their families. They have lost 80% of their habitat because of human interference and often have trouble finding food because humans also over-fish their favorite fish to eat.
The park aims to help conserve otters and other animals, and many of its more than 70 animal species are endangered. Both the park and WildLife Foundation have partnered with Instituto Araguaia in Brazil to study the otter population in the Amazon and make plans to help conserve it.
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