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Swedish zoo hails first-ever giant otter birth

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Swedish zoo hails first-ever giant otter birth
One of the tiny giant otters. Photo: Parken Zoo
10:49 CET+01:00
A Swedish zoo is celebrating the birth of two giant otters, the first ever born in captivity in Sweden, with handlers predicting the "ugly" critters are sure to be the prime attraction of the season.
"I'm extremely proud," Lennart Sundén at the Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna told The Local. "It's a brand new species for us and they're just so special. They'll be the coming season's favourite, for sure."
 
The zoo announced the births on Monday, even though the animals were born in September, and Sundén explained that the pair have hardly stopped moving. The young otters are currently being taught how to swim by their parents, although the otter parents rough treatment might have raised concerns among zoo staff if it wasn't for a well-timed documentary on Sveriges Television (SVT) last week.
 
"It's amazing watching how the parents teach them to swim, but it's also a bit frightening actually - it looks like their parents want to drown them. But we're lucky. We watched the documentary so we know that everything is in order," he said with a chuckle. (See a video of the giant otters learning to swim below)
 
The giant otter (pteronura brasiliensis), not to be confused with the otter, is a native of South America and can grow to be 1.7 metres long. They are carniverous, and their only natural predators are humans, who once hunted them for their velvety pelt.
 
The twin giant otters
 
The Parken Zoo plans to keep the otters in Sweden as long as it can, but then there's a chance they will be moved somewhere in Europe as part of a giant otter conservation programme.
 
But what does Sundén himself think of the little giant otters?
 
"They're a little bit ugly," he admitted with a tremendous laugh. "But they're extremely sweet at the same time."
 
 
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