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Bainbridge girl helps zoo name otter pair

Hanah Deets helped name the Woodland Park Zoo’s new pair of Asian small-clawed otters, Guntur and Teratai. - Dennis Dow / Woodland Park Zoo
Hanah Deets helped name the Woodland Park Zoo’s new pair of Asian small-clawed otters, Guntur and Teratai.
— image credit: Dennis Dow / Woodland Park Zoo

For 7-year old Hanah Deets, there’s no animal as lovable as the manatee.

But Asian small-clawed otters rank a pretty close second.

Hanah was recently named the winner of the Woodland Park Zoo’s “Name the Otters” contest.

The Seattle zoo has a new pair of Asian small-clawed otters, and more than 1,000 people submitted suggestions for names for the two adorable otters, members of the smallest otter species in the world.

The contest ran from May 24 through June 15, and Hanah came up with the name for the female half of the pair, “Teratai.”

The name comes from the Malay language, which is native to the otters’ Southeast Asian origin, and means “water lily or lotus.”

Hanah said she was excited when she found out her suggestion was the winning name.

“My mom and dad got a call and they told me it was good news, and I won,” she said. “I was really happy.”

Two sisters from Renton, Megan Green, 9, and Nicole Green, 10, came up with the name for the male half of the couple: Guntur, which means “thunder” in Malay.

The contest winners were picked by a panel from the Woodland Park Zoo’s animal management staff.

As a grand prize winner, Hanah will receive a $100 savings account from contest sponsor Umpqua Bank, and a lot more.

“I get a stuffed animal otter, and I get a trip to the zoo and an ice cream party - for 100 of my closest friends,” Hanah said.

Hanah said she was looking forward to visiting the zoo and seeing the otters, and said she likes lots of different wild animals.

“I have lots of favorites, but not including manatees, I would do otters,” she said when asked about her top choice from the animal kingdom.

Hanah, who will be a second-grader at Captain Charles Wilkes Elementary next year, is the daughter of Joe and Tammy Deets of Bainbridge Island.

Her father said manatees are Hanah’s favorite animal, thanks to a visit to Belize last year where the family saw some of the large sea mammals.

Hanah and other visitors to the Woodland Park Zoo will have to wait a bit before seeing the newly named Teratai and Guntur, however.

The pair of Asian small-clawed otters gave birth to four otter pups on June 11 behind the scenes of the otters’ new Bamboo Forest Reserve exhibit.

Zoo staff said that because small-clawed otters rely on their whole family to help raise pups, the new otter family will live behind the scenes for a few months as the pups grow and develop. The exhibit will remain closed while Guntur and Teratai get acquainted with parenthood.

Woodland Park Zoo expects to welcome them on public view in the Bamboo Forest Reserve before the end of summer.

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