Meet ZSL London Zoo’s newest otter power couple – Matilda and Pip!
Matilda (affectionately known as Tilly) and Pip are Asian short-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus) who recently arrived at ZSL London Zoo, and like all new residents, they had to spend their first 30 days in quarantine in our on-site Veterinary Hospital looked after by our dedicated animal health care team – made up of veterinary officers, nurses, zookeeper, a behaviour and training officer, an animal welfare officer, microbiologists and researchers.
Our Vet Hospital welcomes all manner of fur, feather and fins (and scales, exoskeletons…you name it, they’ve seen it!) through its doors all year round, with the expert staff working together to ensure all our animals are in prime health.
The quarantine process involves thorough disease screening, health checks and any treatment required to make sure the animals are in tip top condition before they move into their new home. But quarantine isn’t as dull as it may sound – our animals are treated to a series of engaging activity programmes, making sure their stay prepares them for life in their new enclosure and is as fun and stimulating as possible!
After their first few quiet days of settling in, Tilly and Pip embarked on an exciting enrichment programme which included a ball pit, various forage bags and boxes, tunnels, rotten logs, fluffy blankets, little floating boats filled with fish, flowerpots stuffed with hidden treats and much more!
But the undisputed winner of an otter’s affection? The humble ping pong ball! Tilly and Pip were seen happily juggling and playing with these throughout the day – typically following a tasty meal of fish and a dip in the pond. These otters, it seems, have equal enthusiasm for play time, snacks and napping – sounds like living the dream!
Training is also an important part of the enrichment programme, to teach our animals behaviours which are useful for medical care, welfare and transport. Tilly and Pip had sessions several times a day and when it came to the final move to their new enclosure, they happily trotted into their box, allowing keepers to transport them with ease across the Zoo.
The team at the vet hospital were sad to see Tilly and Pip go, but so happy to see such confident and engaging little otters settle into their new home.
Why not go and visit these little characters for yourself? These little superstars can be seen frolicking on the northern side of the Zoo – through the tunnels, just along from Rainforest Life.
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