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Asian small-clawed otter

did you know?

Aonyx cinerea

These otters have only partially webbed paws, which lets them catch prey with their paws rather than their mouths. And they’ve figured out that if they let clams dry in the sun, they’re easier to open. Smart!

Discover Otters

Wild and Zoo
Sleek, furry and about 2-3 feet long, Asian small-clawed otters live in coastal swamps and wetlands in southeast Asia, China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Find ours in the Asian Forest Sanctuary.
Asian Forest Sanctuary
Meet the Keepers
(you really otter.)
Keepers in our Asian Forest Sanctuary give a talk each day at 12:30 pm – look for the signs in that area to find them. Ask questions about each animal, and find out how our zoo team feeds and cares for them.
See daily schedule
(and predators!)
Asian otters have a varied diet: crabs, snails, fish, frogs, insects, bird eggs, rodents, snakes, worms and small aquatic animals.
Their main predators are humans, crocodiles, large snakes and wild cats.
One big family.
These otters mate for life, and both parents help raise the young - a litter of up to 6 pups, once or twice per year.
Pups learn to swim at 9 weeks old, but continue to live with their parents in groups of up to a dozen until they are ready to start their own family.
We love to play!
(and swim, too)
Asian small-clawed otters are mostly diurnal, spending more time on land than any other otter. Highly social, they love to play, sliding into the water or juggling pebbles.
Asian otters build burrows along water banks with entrances as deep as 3 feet under the surface to protect them and their pups.

Protecting Asian Otters

Poached for pets, hunted as pests

THE THREAT: Asian small-clawed otters have been declared a vulnerable species by the IUCN. They are threatened by habitat destruction and pollution, and hunted as pets or for their pelts or meat. Rice farmers consider them pests.

TAKE ACTION: Don’t ever support illegally traded wild animals as pets, and think before you buy furs. Learn about and support U.S. laws on wildlife trafficking.

Asian forest Stories

Browsing the Bamboo

When you think ‘edible gardening,’ you usually don’t imagine growing banana trees for elephants. But Bryon Jones does. The lead horticulturalist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has created an entire garden devoted to plants that zoo animals can munch, nibble or chew. It’s usually hidden from public view. But on this Sunday’s free garden … Continued

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Meet Kazu the tapir calf!

UPDATE: Kazu made his public debut Aug. 30. He and Yuna are now viewable in the Asian Forest Sanctuary late morning-early afternoon on weekends. Trotting over green grass. Figuring out stairs. Swimming. A brand-new, exciting world for Kazu the tapir calf is in store this weekend at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, as the seven-week-old … Continued

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Fixing a tiger tooth

If you’re an apex jungle predator, it’s pretty important to have strong teeth. So when Kirana, one of the four Sumatran tigers at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, needed some work on a fractured canine last week, she had a team of 12 veterinarians, veterinary dentists, technicians and keepers to take care of her. “Can … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Watching our otters? Then try to spot our prickle of porcupines (yes, that’s the word), who rotate with the other animals around the Asian Forest Sanctuary.