Back in early September 2013, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Wildlife Rescue Center in India received their youngest residents to date: three adorable clawed otter pups.
The pups came into the caring hands of IFAW-Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) staff after they were rescued by locals from fringe villages along the central range of the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India.
The villagers first spotted the three newborn pups while they were out fishing. The pups had been floating by on a water hyacinth all alone and still unable to see the world around them.
According to IFAW-WTI Field Communications Officer Subhamoy Bhattacharjee’s blog post about the rescue, the pups were most likely “displaced from their den during the recent floods in the area.”
Curious about the animals, one of the villagers took two home with him while the other informed the Assam Forest Department about the newborns.
The department’s forest guards soon came to the scene and attempted to locate the pups’ mother along with the villagers, but with water levels rising they were unable to trace the mother otter’s den.
Eventually, Manjo Gogoi, a forest guard from Kaziranga National Park called IFAW-WTI rescue center staff, who then came to pick up the orphans.
Once the three pups arrived at IFAW’s Wildlife Rescue Center, the center’s oldest animal keeper, Prasanta Das, took to caring for them “day and night,” as Bhattacharjee writes.
Since the pups were still so young, they needed to be bottle fed every two hours, but according to Bhattacharjee, they responded “quite well.”
Unfortunately, at just 15 days of age, one of the pups passed away. However, his other two brothers are still in IFAW-WTI’s care and doing well. Oli, in particular, is already getting a hang of what it feels to be a clawed otter.
In December 2013, IFAW’s team set up a small makeshift pond habitat with fish for Oli so that he could learn essential otter skills. But, for the first two days, Oli was very hesitant to enter the water, and only touched it “carefully” and drank a bit from the pond.
However, with some time and encouragement from staff, Oli soon jumped into the pond all by himself!
Over his next few sessions, he became more ambitious, moving away from the shallow area and joining the fish for a swim.
And guess what? He even caught a fish all by himself, too!
Once he is able to “navigate the water and hunt with ease,” Oli will be taken to a local forest camp for the final steps of his rehabilitation, IFAW tells us. After he is fully rehabilitated, Oli will then be released and join other clawed otters again — free to live a full, happy life in the wild.
Lead image source: ©IFAW-WTI