Keepers invite public to name rescued otter pup

July 21, 2015 - 10:12am

Public to decide which Oregon waterway young river otter will be named for

Oregon Zoo keepers are asking the community to help them choose a name for a rescued otter pup that took up residence at the Oregon Zoo this month. Over the next week, the public can vote on their favorite of three names.

"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 names:

      • J.R. Papenfus: a creek in Lane County near the location where the pup was found. (J.R. is for junior, since a creek is junior to a river.)
      • Little Pudding (nickname: LP): a tributary of the Pudding River, joining the main stem west of Mt. Angel.
      • Hobson: a creek named for John Hobson, a Clatsop County pioneer who opened a salmon cannery near Tillamook.


The pup is currently on his second week of a month-long quarantine at the zoo's Veterinary Medical Center, where animal care staff say he's been playing, eating voraciously and grooming.

The pup was alone, hungry and dehydrated when he was spotted wandering alongside Highway 58 by a couple from Cottage Grove. He was taken to the Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis. Since the young otter would not be able to survive in the wild without its mother, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted the Oregon Zoo to see if it had space available once the pup's health stabilized.

After quarantine, keepers say they will take gradual steps to introduce the pup to adult river otters Tilly and B.C., who also came to the zoo as rescues.

"B.C. has always been good around young otters, so we're hopeful that the introduction will go swimmingly," Christie said.

Metro, the regional government that manages the Oregon Zoo, has preserved and restored more than 90 miles of river and stream banks in the region through its voter-supported natural area programs. By protecting water quality and habitat, these programs are helping to provide the healthy ecosystems needed for otters, fish and other wildlife to thrive. River otters are frequently observed in Metro region waterways.