When you refer to Missoula, do you use its regular name? Or do you use the slang nickname "Zootown?" If you prefer the latter, Robert Giffen from Brighton, CO would prefer that you do not.

According to his recent post on the 'You Know You Lived in Missoula If...' Facebook group:

...if you can't stand the term 'Zoo Town' when referring to the place. It doesn't have a zoo and the word Missoula actually has meaning to the Salish, it is based on their name for the Clark For River, 'nmesuletkw', which roughly translates to 'place of frozen water'. It's Missoula, people. Be proud of it and don't shorten it to sound 'cool' or just because you're too lazy to say it all. It's unique enough without assigning nicknames to it. Any other 'Missoulas' in the US? I haven't found one.

The term "Zootown" really upsets him, apparently. But people are interjecting to defend the name. Many, MANY people, in fact. At last count, over 263 people have commented since at the time of writing this article. Some of our more 'liked' comments include:

Quit crying, it's a nick name people lovingly call the place they grew up in. Missoula's not just full of hippies and granola's, it has a very diverse group of people living in it, much like a zoo. - Johnny


I guess we all have our preferences over names. I just think that Missoula/Zootown/Garden City is a great place even though I have seen it go through many phases and changes. Compared to other cities, Missoula continues to shine! - Diane


Okay, I'm going to put my two cents in here, although I'm sure someone is likely to be offended by it. I was born in Missoula, St. Pats, and raised in Missoula and surrounding communities (which it seems not many of you can claim). I've moved away, came back, several times. Why? Because this place calls ME!!! It doesn't call me by name, but my soul knows. And the true soul of MisSOULa doesn't care what we call it either, as long as we do. Missoula, Zoo Town, Garden City... Whatever, I just call it home. And I know in my heart the MisSOULa I know and love is offended by all you people who are offended. Get over it!!! - Trish


Me, personally? I remember being given a tour of University of Montana when I considered going to college there during my freshman year and the guide lovingly kept referring to Missoula as "Zootown". He kept saying "that's what the kids are calling us." Years later, following that inspiring moment I chose to name a radio station (107.5 "Zoo" FM) after the term. And for the record, we have had zero complaints.

What are your thoughts? Is 'Zootown' an offensive nickname for our town? Sound off in the comments or join the original conversation here.


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