This post has been updated
Meet Stella, Mae and Selene, the female trio of Asian small-clawed otter pups at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
During the two-week period to vote on the name of the trio, more than 14,000 supporters made their voices heard online and in-person at the aquarium.
The otter pups born on May 21 during a full moon, King Tide, and a storm, now have names that reflect that memorable night. Stella is Latin for star. Mae is for the Thai goddess of water, Mae Phra Khongkha, who is celebrated with a festival during the first full moon in November. Selene is Greek for moon, and the Greek goddess of the moon.
The pups have reached important milestones such as swimming and eating solid foods and have begun exploring their public habitat.
“We are thrilled with the outpouring of love and community input for naming Stella, Mae, and Selene,” Hap Fatzinger, director, North Carolina Aquarium Fort Fisher, said.
“The birth of these three pups is a story of success in species survival, as Asian small-clawed otters are vulnerable in their native habitat of Indonesia, southern China, southern India, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines. Their birth energizes our team in our mission to inspire conservation of our aquatic environments,” he continued. “Even here at home, individual actions, like buying shade-grown coffee can prevent habitat loss for this amazing species.”
Native to Indonesia, southern China, southern India, Southeast Asia and the Philippines, Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of the otter species and listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Population numbers are declining because of many threats, including residential and commercial development, deforestation, the illegal pet trade, pollution, climate change, and poaching.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is just south of Kure Beach, a short drive from Wilmington, on U.S. 421. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12.95 for ages 13-61; $10.95 for ages 3-12; and $11.95 for ages 62 and older and military with valid identification. Admission for EBT card holders is $3. Free admission for children 2 and younger and N.C. Aquarium Society members and N.C. Zoo members.