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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

Healing with Light

On a cold, wet November morning, veterinary technician Julie Lemon is lying on her stomach on a hard floor. Angling her head, she carefully positions a small metal wand between the hard, pointy toes of a tapir, who’s anesthetized and sleeping soundly in his den. Then she presses a button, and a stream of pink … Continued

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Cho Cho, the Oldest Siamang

How does it feel to be the oldest siamang – probably – in North America? Well, for Cho Cho, snuggled up with his companion Dudlee on a crisp fall morning at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, it seemed pretty cozy. This year Cho Cho is celebrating his 51st birthday – which makes him the oldest … Continued

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We’re expecting a baby tapir!

Endangered Malayan tapirs Yuna and Baku strolled around one of the Asian Forest Sanctuary exhibits on Wednesday afternoon, grazing on grasses – and keeping a secret. Not even the birds perched in the nearby trees would tweet the news. But we can let you in on this uber-exciting development today. Hooray! Hooray! A baby tapir … 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.