The three newest members of the Asian small-clawed otter family at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher are ready to be named.
With volunteer input, otter caretakers narrowed down the choices to five trios of names for the otter pups, one female and two males born Jan. 31, and now the public can vote through noon Friday, March 24, on their favorite.
“We are honored to have input from the volunteers at the Aquarium who researched and shared meaningful naming ideas based on the native habitat of Asian small-clawed otters. We’re sharing the top five trios of names and asking our community to vote for their favorite,” Shannon Anderson, otter keeper at the Fort Fisher aquarium, said in a statement.
The following are the trio of names and meanings:
- Mazu: Chinese goddess of sailors and travelers.
- Indus: River in India.
- Lu: Short for Lutrinae, the sub-family of Asian small clawer otters. Also, a Chinese character meaning blessings, happiness, and prosperity.
- Gemma: Latin for gem or precious stone.
- Kai: Chinese for shell, triumph, or victory.
- Ren: Japanese origins meaning purity. In Star Wars, Kylo Ren is the son of Princess Leia.
- Tala: In Tagalog mythology, Tala is the goddess of stars.
- Alon: Tagalog for wave.
- Bayani: Popular Tagalog name for males, meaning the hero.
- Rani: meaning queen.
- Lei: Chinese for bud.
- Aki: Japanese origins meaning bright, light, clear.
- Li: Chinese for power and beautiful.
- Ryu: Japanese for dragon.
- Bo: Chinese for wave.
Voting is open online at Name the Otter Pups, by QR code on the screens at the aquarium and at the Otters on the Edge habitat with advanced tickets required to visit the Fort Fisher aquarium. Reserve tickets online.
The pups have reached some important milestones and preparations are underway to introduce them to their public habitat. Stay up with the pups by following their journey on Facebook and Instagram using #OtterPupsNCAFF.
Asian small-clawed otters are native to Indonesia, southern China, southern India, Southeast Asia and the Philippines. They are the smallest of the otter species and listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s 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.
“Our hope is that by discovering more about Asian small-clawed otters, our community will both celebrate how special they are and take individual actions to prioritize their conservation,” Anderson said.
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: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.