Asheboro, NC — For the first time in its 40 year history, there’s been an otter birth at the North Carolina Zoo. The female, who is a North American river otter, was born on January 15th.

The pup’s arrival comes after N.C. Zoo keepers spent five years trying to get their two otters to mate. After nearly giving up, they started working with Helen Bateman, a research associate specializing in otters at the Cincinnati Zoo. It was discovered; since the N.C. Zoo’s female otter was born in Florida, her reproductive cycle might be a few weeks later than zoo keepers expected.

Last year, zoo keepers changed the method and timing they allowed the otters to interact during breeding season. They delayed the process for about six weeks. Since otters breed in mid-winter but do not give birth for nearly 10 months, it was unknown if the process worked until the new otter was born earlier this year.

The baby otter is eight weeks old and has not yet been named. Earlier this week, zoo keepers recorded video of the pup going on her first swim, with some help from her mother. Media outlets can find the video by clicking the link below or going to the North Carolina Zoo’s Facebook page.

The pup is on exhibit, but since she’s still dependent on her mother, she’s spending a lot of time inside the den. By April, zoo visitors should be able to see more of the baby otter.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.