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Otter pup born at Exploris Aquarium in Northern Ireland first

An otter pup born at the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry is the first to be bred in captivity in Northern Ireland.

The two captive-bred Asian Otters, Sungari and Bourbon, gave birth to the currently unnamed and unsexed pup in December.

However, the animal's arrival was kept quiet to allow the new family to get to know each other.

Small-Claw Asian Otters (Aonyx cinerea) form monogamous partnerships with the opposite sex and, much like human beings, share parental duties. Together they build and maintain a nest as well as feeding and attending to their young with which they form a close bond.

The animals are considered vulnerable due to the loss of their natural habitat, the demand for their fur and risk to pollution.

"As the pup gains more confidence he or she will be more visible here at Exploris in the comings days and weeks," said Exploris head of animal welfare Victoria McCready.

“Their rarity means that we have had to make a few precautions to ensure a successful gestation period – approximately 68 to 74 days – which has included minimising noise and visitor traffic surrounding the otter enclosure."

Last August Exploris opened its doors following a lengthy campaign to save the facility.

Exploris, as part of the NI Science Festival, is hosting a variety of The Natural World events over the schools' mid-term break.

Exploris general manager, Ann Moreland added: "We have been delighted with our visitors numbers, which to date have exceeded 80,000, and feedback has been extremely positive both in terms of the visitor experience and also the economic benefit to Portaferry and the surrounding region."

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