Oregon Zoo keepers give orphaned pups names based on local waterways
The fluffy, squeaky river otters who arrived last month at the Oregon Zoo now have names. The 3-month-old orphaned pups will be called Flora and Hobson, after Oregon waterways Floras Lake and Hobson Creek.
"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."
Flora, a female, and Hobson, a male, were both orphaned last month in different parts of the state.
Flora was found wandering a construction site near Gold Beach. Oregon State Police took her to Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center in nearby Josephine County. Wildlife Images, a nonprofit facility, cared for the animal while final placement was determined by staff at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Since the young otter could not be reunited with her mom, and would not be able to survive in the wild without her, ODFW contacted the Oregon Zoo to see whether it had space available once the pup's health stabilized.
Hobson, who was suffering from a respiratory infection, was found near a golf course in McMinnville and was temporarily cared for at the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center near Salem.
"Our preference for them would have been rehab and release," said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo's Great Northwest area. "However, wildlife officials said that was not possible so we're happy we could give them a second chance."
Visitors can see the two pups in the zoo's Cascade Stream habitat, where they spend part of each day playing and swimming.
Once threatened by fur trappers, North American river otters are now relatively abundant in healthy river systems of the Pacific Northwest and the lakes and tributaries that feed them. Good populations exist in suitable habitat in northeast and southeast Oregon, but they are scarce in heavily settled areas, especially if waterways are compromised. Because of habitat destruction and water pollution, river otters are considered rare outside the region.
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.