News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
April 11, 2019

North American River Otter being Hand-reared at Brookfield Zoo


 Photo Captions—credit: Chicago Zoological Society/Jim Schulz

3467, 3559, 3655, 9637, and 9658: A male North American river otter pup born on February 26 is being hand-reared by Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff. Soon after his birth, the pup’s mom was not able to provide him with the proper nutrition he needed. Thanks to a very successful recovery program for the species in Illinois, otters are now common and found in every county in the state according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
3516 and 3554: Michelle Soszynski, a senior animal care specialist at Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Hospital cares for a North American River otter born at the zoo on February 26. Soon after the pup’s mom gave birth, she wasn’t able to provide him with the proper nutrition he needed. This prompted the decision to intervene and hand-rear the pup.

     Brookfield, Ill. – A male North American river otter pup, born at Brookfield Zoo on February 26, is doing well after animal care and veterinary staff determined it was in the best interest of the pup’s wellbeing to hand-rear him. Soon after his birth, the pup’s mom, Charlotte, was not able to provide him with the proper nourishment he needed, prompting the decision to intervene.

Due to the amount of time that Charlotte has been separated from the pup, it is unlikely that she would accept him back as her own. Currently, Chicago Zoological Society staff is working with the coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) North American River Otter Species Survival Plan (SSP) to relocate the young otter to another accredited institution that has otters of similar age. This scenario would give him the best opportunity for companionship and socialization.

This birth is the second successful one for this species at Brookfield Zoo. Charlotte and her mate Ben had their first litter—a male and a female—in 2017. Those offspring are at other AZA zoos on breeding loans based on recommendations made by the SSP, which is a cooperative population management and conservation program for the species. The program manages the breeding of otters in zoos to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the otter population in Illinois was once in jeopardy with an estimate of fewer than 100 individuals in the late 1980s. Thanks to a very successful recovery program that included relocating otters from Louisiana to southern Illinois as well as expanding populations in neighboring states, otters are now common and found in every county in the state.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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