WATCH: Cute Otter Pup Gets Swimming Lessons

Even otter moms can be embarrassing.

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A darling baby otter has become the star attraction at the Oregon Zoo, where his daily swimming lessons are drawing adoring crowds. Little Molalla was born blind and helpless nine weeks ago, but has been thriving under the care of zoo staff and now weighs 2 kg.

“He [weighed] about a handful of jellybeans when he was born,” says Becca Van Beek, otter-keeper at the zoo, set across 64 acres in the West Hills of Portland. “So he’s growing super fast and we’re very excited to have him on exhibit. He’s been developing quite the personality as he gets older.”

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Otters are not actually born knowing how to swim, and so Molalla is taking two-hour swimming lessons courtesy of his mother, Tilly. The pup is hauled around their enclosure by the scruff of his neck, much to the delight of visitors and staff, before performing an exhausting series of paddles and dives aimed to prepare him for life standing on his own four paws.

Tilly was brought to the zoo in 2009 as an orphan, reports, and so perhaps her own tough start in life is why she has been taking her maternal responsibilities so seriously. Molalla, named after the picturesque Oregon river, is the first river otter to be born at the zoo.

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My husband and I came across three baby otters on a river in Florida several years ago as we were canoeing on a weekday.  No one else was on the river.  We stopped paddling, stayed totally quiet and still and watched the babies go down to the water's edge and quickly run back up the small bank.  They did this over and over until finally the mother, who then looked HUGE to us came out of the water.  The babies ran circles around her as she climbed the bank and went down the other side of the bank into the woods.  As the four otters disappeared from view all sounds from them also ceased.  My husband and I sat stunned at those ten minutes of natural wonder and beauty that we had just witnessed.