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

December 12, 2013 - 11:46am

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.