River Otter Swims Into Hearts in Oregon

Oregon Zoo
Mo, the Oregon Zoo's river otter pup, is named for a local river.

Just call this river otter Mo.

The Oregon Zoo named the baby Molalla, after a river in the state — and calls him Mo for short. The zoo tries to name its otters after local waterways.

The pup was born to Tilly — who was named for the Tillamook River — on Jan. 28, becoming the first river otter to be born at the zoo. The little one weighed just 4 ounces at birth, but is quickly putting on pounds thanks to mom’s high-fat milk.

“Tilly’s been very attentive and doesn’t spend too long away from Mo,” said senior keeper Julie Christie. “We’re pretty sure the pup’s a male, but we can’t be positive until our vets conduct a more thorough exam. Either way, we think Molalla will be a good name. There are plenty of females named Mo too.”

River otters are very dependent on their moms when they’re little. They don’t walk until they’re about 5 weeks old, and swimming doesn’t come naturally to them. So, Tilly has recently started teaching Mo how to swim in the zoo’s stream and pond, which keepers babyproofed for the new arrival.


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