These otters may not be donning a cap and gown, but they’re the latest graduates of the zoo’s swim program.
Baby otters Nellie and Tucker were born at the Oregon Zoo in February, and began learning how to swim under the watchful eye of their mom, Tilly, a few weeks ago.
"Tilly’s a great swim instructor," zookeeper Celess Edinger said in a statement. "Tilly grabs them by the scruff of their necks and dunks them in the water. But that’s natural river otter behavior. It’s how they learn to swim."
Edinger explained Nellie and Tucker’s mom would start off each swim lesson by pulling them to the water and diving in.
It only took a few weeks of following their mom for them to become naturals.
“Many people don’t realize that river otters need to learn how to swim just like us,” Edinger said.
Female pup Nellie, short for Nehalem, and male pup Tucker, short for Nestucca, were both named after nearby bodies of water.
The zoo explained they often name their river otters after local waterways, to emphasize the importance of protecting their natural habitats – rivers, streams and wetlands.