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Facebook contest to name Long Island's new baby otters
When your parents’ names are Peanut Butter and Jelly, it’s no wonder people want to call you Nutella, Jam and Fluff.
That’s the case for four North American river otters born Feb. 16 at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead. Since the quadruplets -- one female and three males -- still do not have names, the aquarium is calling upon the public to help name them.
“We’re excited for the pups . . . and eager to see what names people like the most,” said Candy Paparo, assistant director of animal training at the aquarium.
Paparo, 36, of Calverton, helped come up with the 10 potential names that are now in the running in the Otterly Adorable Naming Contest that started Monday on the Long Island Aquarium’s Facebook page.
As of Sunday, nearly 300 votes had been cast with Nutella, Fluff, and Sage garnering the most support, so far. The poll will remain open through April 14, and the four winning names will be announced the next day.
From now until April 15, Blue Duck Bakery Cafe, at 309 E. Main St., Riverhead, is also selling commemorative Otterly Yummy cupcakes inspired by the birth of the otter pups.
There’s a peanut butter-and-jelly cupcake derived from the names of the otters’ parents and a chocolate jelly-filled variety for customers with nut allergies.
“We tried to copy a face of an otter on there, which was a little bit of challenge, but I think we pulled it off,” said Blue Duck Bakery Cafe owner Keith Kouris, 56, of Aquebogue. “They are very cute.”
Kouris, who opened up the Riverhead bakery in November 2012, will donate a portion of the proceeds from the cupcake sales to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, a nonprofit housed inside the aquarium, which rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals and sea turtles.
Since the pups are still nursing and are not capable of walking yet, visitors to the aquarium cannot see them at this time. They are in a holding area with their mother, Jelly, who also gave birth to another litter in 2010.
“She will teach them how to swim,” Paparo explained. “We have to take our cues from Jelly.”
Once they are ready, the aquarium staff will open the door to the holding area, so Jelly and her pups can enter the public exhibit.
“They are extremely playful,” Paparo said of the otter pups she’s seen during the 13 years she has worked at the aquarium. “They play with each other, with their parents, and with sticks, leaves and any toy we give them. They are fun to watch.”