River otter pup makes surprise debut at zoo's 2nd Tuesday

August 11, 2015 - 4:34pm

Rescued pup explores habitat for first time after keepers do some 'baby-proofing'

Thousands of visitors streamed into the Oregon Zoo for its reduced-admission Second Tuesday this morning, and a few lucky otter fans among them got a surprise treat.

Little Pudding — the 4-month-old river otter orphaned last month near Oakridge, Ore. — made a brief debut in the zoo's Cascade Stream and Pond habitat at a little after 10:30, splashing in the pool, scampering over branches and climbing on rocks for about 20 minutes as keepers and a veterinarian stood by, making sure the boisterous pup stayed safe.

"He did a lot of investigating," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "He handled the pool and navigated the space really well. He definitely wore himself out — he's been napping in his den ever since."

Before inviting the youngster outdoors, keepers did a bit of "baby-proofing" to the habitat — lowering the water level in the pool by a couple feet and removing any obstacles that might impede an easy exit.

The rescued pup will still only be out sporadically for the time being, Christie said, but visitors can expect to see more of him as the summer goes on and keepers introduce the pup to the zoo's two adult otters, Tilly and B.C.