Pets & Animals

Say cheese! Meet these adorable baby otters named 'Monterey' and 'Jack'

Welcome to the world, Monterey and Jack!

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York debuted photos this week of the cheesily-named siblings, its two newest North American River Otters, born March 8 to 9-year-old father Johann and 6-year-old mother, Brie.

Jaimie Alvarez

At birth, these otter pups — both male — weighed about 4 ounces. Newborn otters are born blind, opening their eyes four to five weeks into their lives.

Guests at the zoo can observe feedings, though the pups will not be included in the actual otter exhibit in the social animal area of the zoo until they are a bit older.

Maria Simmons

"We haven't had baby otters here since 1998," Ted Fox, Zoo Director told TODAY.com. "It's quite rare for them to be born in captivity, so we're thrilled about the success of this birth. For right now, since they're being bottle-fed and on a pretty strict feeding schedule, there'll be viewings of the feedings in our clinic and kitchen area," he continues. "And within the next four to six weeks, we'll start integrating them into the full exhibit."

Jaimie Alvarez

The North American River Otter (also known as the "common otter"), a member of the weasel family, is a semi-aquatic mammal found throughout North America as well as in parts of Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic States, and the Pacific Northwest.

Jaimie Alvarez

Normally, the sound an otter makes is something like a low chuckle. But they may hiss or growl if alarmed, and they're even known to purr when they're most at ease.

Younger otters are known for their spirited nature, often seen wrestling and play-fighting. Through play, they learn all the important survival instincts they'll need in the wild. They have a varied diet, but at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, they're fed live fish.

Sadly, the common otter has nearly vanished from many parts of its native range, but there are still plenty to be found in the wild. It's earned a "least concern" classification on the IUCN Red List, which documents and classifies threatened species.

Jaimie Alvarez

Now, about those cheesy names...

"It started with the mother," explains Fox. "Brie was a wild-born otter in Long Island, New York. A dog separated her from her family group and chased her onto someone's porch, where she was reported to a local aquarium. Eventually, she arrived here at the zoo with her new favorite toy, this thing that looked like a giant piece of cheese. She just loved it."

And while Johann may be the odd one out when it comes to the names in the family, he does share his moniker with the German naturalist who first identified the common otter.

For more otter fun and visitor information, visit the Rosamond Gifford Zoo's website.

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