You decide: Which animal is the Oregon Zoo's mom of the year? - KPTV - FOX 12

You decide: Which animal is the Oregon Zoo's mom of the year?

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Photo: Oregon Zoo Photo: Oregon Zoo

In the spirit of Mother's Day, the Oregon Zoo is looking to honor one of its hardworking animal moms trying to raise respectable otter, lion, elephant and condor children.

Zoo workers are asking for your help picking its mom of the year. A poll is available at

This year's finalists are: Timocho, a California condor; Tilly, a North American river otter; Rose-Tu, an Asian elephant; and Neka, an African lion.

Neka, a 6-year-old African lion, gave birth to three not-so-little kittens Sept. 7, 2013. Keepers say the first-time mom has been very nurturing and attentive - grooming, nursing and wrangling her cubs from the moment they were born. Despite her exceptional mothering skills, the smallest and weakest of the litter, Kamali, faced health issues early on, requiring an intensive-care intervention and a nine-day stay in the zoo's Veterinary Medical Center. Keepers weren't sure how Neka would react when they returned the little one to her private maternity den, but she accepted her cub right away.

Rose-Tu delivered a healthy, 300-pound elephant baby named Lily on Nov. 30, 2012. Lily was born big, with a big personality to match. Keepers have described her as a "spitfire," and she's had a huge impact on the zoo's world-famous Asian elephant family. "Young elephants are brought up within an extended, multigenerational family that includes the biological mother along with aunties and friends," said Bob Lee, the zoo's elephant curator. "So we consider a vote for Rose-Tu to be honoring Shine and Chendra as well."

Tilly is the reigning Oregon Zoo mom of the year. She gave birth to her first pup Mo in January 2013 and then Ziggy on Nov. 8, 2013. Named after the river that flows down Mount Hood through Zigzag Canyon, the youngest otter seemed to grow into his name - zigging this way and that, and scampering away from Tilly when she tried to lead him indoors. "Human parents often notice that the second child is much more independent," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "We definitely noticed that with our second otter. As soon as Ziggy started walking, he was on the go. He's a little motorboat." Still, young river otters are still very dependent on their moms and have to be taught to swim.

Timocho was hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo more than 15 years ago. She was released into the wild that year, but in 2005, she was hit in the face by a shotgun blast. Pellets damaged one of her eyes and tongue and fractured bones in and around her mouth. She was nursed back to health and transferred to the Oregon Zoo's breeding program in 2008. She and her partner Willie have brought five chicks into the world, one each year starting in 2010 and most recently on April 11. Two of their "kids" are now flying free in California and Arizona.

Cast your vote at this link: Oregon Zoo 2013 Mom of the Year

The zoo will announce the winner on May 9.

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