Oregon Zoo river otter pup ‘a little motorboat’ as he learns to swim

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River otter mother Tilly teaches her second pup Ziggy to swim at the Oregon Zoo's Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. As Ziggy demonstrates, the second child tends to be wild.

Portland — It’s a tough world out there when your mom grabs you by the scruff of the neck, plunges into a chilly pool and dives deep.

That sort of tough love, however, is necessary if you’re a North American river otter pup just learning to swim.

The Oregon Zoo distributed a new photo and video Thursday of its newcomer, 2-month-old Zigzag, taking a dip with his mother, Tilly. Otter moms must teach their little ones to swim and because they’re so buoyant, it takes awhile before they learn to glide around underwater in that ultra-graceful way otters have.

Ziggy can be seen zipping around the Cascade Stream and Pond habitat most days until 2 p.m., and he appears to be much more independent than Mo, the last otter pup born at the zoo.

“He’s a little motorboat,” says Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo’s North America area.