The otters were born Feb. 16 and are behind the scenes bonding with mom.
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Three North American River otter kitts
Credit: Courtesy of Zoo New England

Massachusetts' Stone Zoo announced last week that three newborn baby otters born in mid-February and are bonding with their mother before they make their official public debut.

"The kits [proper name for a baby otter] are doing well and are bonding with their mother behind the scenes," the zoo announced on Instagram.

The North American River otters were born to Dunkin, a four-year-old otter and first-time mom, and Sushi, a 16-year-old otter who recently passed away, due to age.

"We are so excited about the birth of these kits, which is a first for Zoo New England," Pete Costello, assistant curator of Stone Zoo, said in a statement. "As with any new birth, we are closely monitoring mom and babies. Dunkin is doing great and allowing the kits to nurse often. She's a pro for a first-time mom."

Dunkin is already showing signs of being a protective mother. Whenever zoo keepers enter the enclosure, she hides the otter kits beneath a pile of hay.

For the first few months of their lives, the kits are fully dependent on their mother. The animals are born both blind and toothless. It's not until they're anywhere from 28 to 56 days old that they start to swim. They start walking at 35 to 42 days old. During this time, they'll play around with each other, but they won't leave their mother's protection for several more weeks.

North American river otters weigh about four ounces when they are born. When they reach maturity, they'll weigh anywhere from 10 to 30 pounds.

The zoo will continue to post updates on Facebook as the otter kits grow and reach new milestones.

Visitors can also see the otters in person at the Stone Zoo. Admission starts at $20.95 for adults and $13.95 for kids aged two to 12.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.