Willy? Ziggy? Trask? Zoo's new river otter needs name

Keepers invite public to help name Tilly's pup by voting on the zoo website

Tilly's baby needs a name. Oregon Zoo keepers are asking the community to help them choose a name for the month-old river otter. Keepers have come up with three possible names for the pup and are asking the public to vote for their favorite here.

"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."

Keepers are considering the following three names:

      • Trask, after the river in northwest Oregon, which empties into Tillamook Bay. (The river itself was named for 19th-century pioneer Eldridge Trask, who settled along the bay.)
      • Zigzag (nickname: Ziggy), after the 12-mile-long tributary of the Sandy that flows down Mount Hood through the Zigzag Canyon (the canyon's name derives from a description by Oregon pioneer Joel Palmer on descending it in the mid-1800s).
      • Willamette, or Willy for short, after the major Columbia River tributary that defines the Willamette Valley and runs through downtown Portland. (The name is said to derive from the French pronunciation of a Clackamas Indian village.)


Tilly — who was named after the Tillamook River — gave birth to the pup Nov. 8.

Tilly and her pup are currently in a private maternity den, and it will most likely be another month before visitors can see them in their Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. Young river otters usually open their eyes after three to six weeks, and begin walking at about five weeks.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org