Gettin' Ziggy wit it: Zoo's baby river otter gets a name

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Tilly's new pup is named after Oregon's Zigzag River following an online vote

Tilly's baby river otter has a name. The 6-week-old pup will be called Zigzag, or Ziggy for short — named after the 12-mile-long Sandy River tributary that flows down Mount Hood through Zigzag Canyon.

"A lot of the animals here get their names from nations or cultures associated with the species' native habitats," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "For the river otters, we like to choose names based on local waterways."

After narrowing their list of potential names to three choices — Trask and Willamette were the other two — keepers last week invited the public to vote for their favorite via the zoo website. More than 8,000 otter fans weighed in, with Ziggy earning close to 50 percent of the votes.

Both Tilly and Ziggy are doing well, according to Christie, and visitors can now see them from time to time through a den window at the Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. The young pup, born Nov. 8, has recently opened his eyes and started to walk a bit, right on schedule. River otters usually open their eyes after four to five weeks, and begin walking at about five to six weeks.

"Young river otters are very dependent on their moms, and Tilly has been very nurturing," Christie said. "She did a great job with her first pup, Mo, earlier this year. She raised him up from this tiny, helpless creature into the sleek, agile, full-grown otter he is today. We're confident Tilly will be a great mom to her new pup as well."