A boisterous, squeaky River Otter pup — orphaned last month near Oakridge, Oregon, and now living at the Oregon Zoo — has a name. The 4-month-old will be called Little Pudding, named for a tributary of Oregon’s Pudding River.
Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo
"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 — J.R. Papenfus and Hobson were the other two — keepers last week invited the public to vote for their favorite via the zoo website. More than 5,500 Otter fans weighed in, with Little Pudding earning around 36 percent of the votes.
The pup was alone, hungry and dehydrated when he was spotted wandering alongside a local highway. 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, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted the zoo to see if space was available once the pup's health stabilized.
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.