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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Aquarium’s new otter pups named with 7K public votes

The aquarium’s new otter pups have names. (Courtesy aqaurium)

WILMINGTON — Meet Gemma, Kai and Ren.

Those are the three new Asian small-clawed otter pups born at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher on Jan. 31.

The public churned out 7,000 votes during a weeklong period to help name the pups. Aquarium volunteers put together five groups of name choices to call the female and two male siblings.

READ MORE: Newborn otters meet 8-month-old siblings

The options included:


  1. Mazu (Chinese goddess of sailors and travelers)
  2. Indus (River in India)
  3. Lu (From the Buddhist practice originating in China)
  1. Gemma (gem and precious stone)
  2. Kai (sea, shell, warrior)
  3. Ren (purity, lotus, perfection)
  1. Tala (In Tagalog mythology, Tala is the goddess of stars)
  2. Alon (Tagalog for wave)
  3. Bayani (Popular Tagalog name for males, meaning the hero)
  1. Rani (queen)
  2. Lei (strong, masculine)
  3. Aki (bright hope)
  1. Li (Chinese name for strength or pretty)
  2. Ryu (Asian name meaning dragon)
  3. Bo (Chinese name meaning precious)

Option two won out.

“We are so inspired by the thousands of people who have voted to name these new pups. Every moment that we can spend sharing their story is critical to saving this vulnerable species. We hope that the awareness it brings to everyone who voted will turn into individual conservation action,” Shannon Anderson, NCAFF, aquarist and lead otter keeper, said in a release. 

The aquarium staff has been monitoring the pups as they cross milestones before becoming viewable by the public (approximately after 17 weeks). Gemma, the only female pup of the trio, was the first to open her eyes. Staff say she is also the loudest.

“Kai is a very large male pup and enjoys a good nap,” the aquarium noted in a release. “Ren is also a male pup and is the smallest of the litter.” 

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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