Skip to main content

2-month-old otter pups show off swimming skills

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo’s two river otter pups, a male and female, have aced their swimming lessons and have graduated to the outdoor pool and habitat. Guests will have the opportunity to watch the yet-to-be named pups twirling, rolling, somersaulting, dog paddling and just being otterly fun!

While otters are highly skilled swimmers, moms need to teach their pups how to swim, just like humans do! For the last couple of weeks, mama Valkyrie has been giving her 2-month-old pups swimming lessons in a kiddie pool located in the off-view den. What do lessons entail for otters? Valkyrie picks up each pup by the scruff of their neck and dunks them in and out, much like dunking donuts in milk, but here it’s dunkin’ otters!

In the outdoor pool, visitors may see Valkyrie still teaching the pups as she immerses them under water and brings them up for air. But please be patient. For the next several weeks, a regular viewing schedule will be unpredictable while the pups acclimate to the outdoor habitat. Mom is given the choice to bring her family indoors. Stay tuned for fun updates on the otter pups at

North American river otters are semi-aquatic and members of the weasel family. Their habitat ranges over most of North America in coastal areas, estuaries, freshwater lakes, streams and rivers; they can be found in water systems all over Washington state. These energetic and incredibly social animals learn by playing. This helps them establish social bonds and practice their hunting techniques. While five of the 13 existing otter species are endangered due to water pollution, overfishing of commercial stock and habitat destruction, the North American river otter population is not endangered.

Do more for otters

To help otters, become a Carnivore Spotter and report and share sightings, interactions, and vocalizations of carnivores—including river otters, black bears, bobcats, cougars and coyotes—throughout the greater Seattle area:

Become a ZooParent and help provide exceptional care for the new river otter family and all of Woodland Park Zoo’s amazing animals and support wildlife conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.