SINGAPORE – Two lost otter pups from the famous Bishan family were reunited with the bevy on Thursday (Dec 28) after about 30 hours, with the help of volunteers.

A photo of the 11-week-old pups was posted on the OtterWatch Facebook page on Thursday afternoon after they were rescued.

Veteran otter watcher Jeffery Teo, who is part of the Otter Working Group, told The Straits Times that otter watchers saw the family without the pups at about 6am on Wednesday and spotted the lost pups later that day at about 6pm, on the water edges near Nicoll Highway.

The otter watcher who spotted the pups then contacted Mr Teo, who activated volunteers, including from the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society and the National Parks Board.

Acres staff used a pole net to capture the pups and returned them to their family.

Acres’ deputy chief executive Kalai Vanan said: “OtterWatch contacted Acres after their observations showed that two otter pups had been left behind at Kallang riverside area. We wanted to give more time for the family to find the pups, but… the period of time that the otter pups were left behind for was approaching the 30 hour mark. Fearing that the otters might become weak and potentially drown in the water, Acres and OtterWatch decided to rescue the otter pups and reunite with the adults.

Acres deputy chief executive Kalai Vanan was one of those who used pole nets to capture the pups and return them to their family. PHOTO: OTTERWATCH

“The operation took a total of about three-and-a-half hours from the moment we set up our initial trap. However, the pups did not seem to be falling for the trap so we resorted to using pole nets to catch them on foot… Eventually both pups were successfully reunited.”

Said Mr Teo: “Their family members were extremely happy, they were vocalising and welcoming back the pups. The pups were extremely excited to hear and see their family.”

The Bishan family has 16 otters.

The smooth-coated otter, formerly thought to be extinct in Singapore, returned in 1998 as the island’s waterways became cleaner.

There are currently just over 60 in Singapore. They are distinct from the Oriental small-clawed otters, which can be found in Pulan Ubin.

This is not the first time that volunteers from the otter watching community have come to the rescue of otter pups.

Last month, a pup from the Pasir Ris family, aged about eight to nine months, with a wound from a ring around its body, was successfully rounded up and treated.

In January, a lost two-and-a-half-month-old pup from the Bishan family was rescued.

And in May last year, a then six-week-old pup from the Marina family called Toby almost drowned after it fell off a ledge into a canal near Fort Road. It was reunited with its family 10 days later.

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