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


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."

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 |