Oregon Zoo Welcomes Spotted-Necked Otters

Spotted-necked otter. © Orgon Zoo / Video still frame by Michael Durham

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Zoo welcomed two new otters to town last month: Lemmy and Lila, a pair of spotted-necked otters arrived in November and are now making themselves at home in the zoo’s Africa Rainforest section. Visitors can look for them in the area between flamingos and bats.

Spotted-necked otters are native to central Africa, especially in and around Lake Victoria and Zambia. Much like the zoo’s North American river otters and southern sea otters, these new arrivals are playful and have a lot of character, according to care staff.

“Lemmy is a hoot,” keeper Kaley McClung said. “He’s full of personality and very curious. He is excitable when it comes to food, and thinks he’s real tough until he’s startled by something. Lila is a very sweet and gentle little otter. She’s nine pounds of cuteness with a hint of stubborn.”

To see video of the new pair, go to bit.ly/NewOtters.

McClung says the otters are still getting acclimated and tend to spend more time indoors when the weather’s chilly, but guests may see them venturing out periodically or snuggling up in one of their heated dens.

Lemmy was born at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in 2014, and Lila was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2008 and later moved to the Toronto Zoo. Their transfer to Portland was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for spotted-necked otters, a cooperative program among accredited zoos to promote genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations of at-risk species.

Spotted-necked otters are listed as near-threatened on the IUCN Red list. Their numbers are in decline primarily due to habitat loss caused by agricultural land expansion, pollution and invasive species. Overfishing and poaching are additional threats to their survival.

As part of the Metro family, the Oregon Zoo helps make greater Portland a great place to call home. Committed to conservation, the zoo is also working to save endangered California condors, western pond turtles, Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies and northern leopard frogs. To learn more, visit oregonzoo.org/recovery.

Support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation enhances and expands the zoo’s efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare. Members, donors and corporate and foundation partners help the zoo make a difference across the region and around the world. To contribute, go to oregonzoo.org/donate.

To plan your Oregon Zoo visit, go to oregonzoo.org/visit. For more information on getting to the zoo, visit Explore Washington Park.