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Shedd Aquarium holding “kids-only” election to name dolphin calf

Young Shedd Aquarium guests will vote to name the Pacific White-sided dolphin calf, born in April. |Shedd Aquarium

Election fever may be sweeping the nation, but the Shedd Aquarium is holding a different kind of election this month. The Shedd wants its younger visitors to choose the name of a male dolphin calf born in April.

From Monday through July 12, all aquarium guests 18 and under will have the chance to choose from a list of suggested names for the 50-pound Pacific White-sided calf, born to first-time mother, Katrl.

“We want young guests to have a connection with the calf and learn that it has a lot of the same milestones that a child has,” said Mary Andrusyk, manager of guest engagement at Shedd. “This puts a responsibility on the kids – it’s putting them in charge of caring for dolphins and the environment at large.”

The options are all in Lingit, the language of the Tlingit people, who are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest:

  • Taashuka (tah-SHOO-kah) – meaning “Tidelands”
  • Katnaanu (kat-NAH-noo) – meaning “Wilderness”
  • Kukdlaa (KOOK-dlah) – meaning “Bubbles”
  • Kusti (KOOS-tee) – meaning “Life/Way of Living”
  • Lekwaa (LAY-kwah) – meaning “Spirit”

Guests will receive a voter’s registration packet containing information about the campaign and the name options. The aquarium will have three polling locations with educational dolphin activities, including video footage of the calf’s birth, information about its eating and playing habits, and facts about the species and its native Pacific region.

“This opportunity will promote guests to become aware of environmental problems and work to be part of the solution,” Andrusyk said.

The young voters will be able to see the 3-foot-5 calf swimming with its mother in different areas of the aquarium throughout July.

Shedd Aquarium Pacific White-sided dolphins, Katrl and Calf swim close together. |Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium Pacific White-sided dolphins, Katrl and Calf swim close together. |Shedd Aquarium

Children can’t get to the Shedd will still have a chance to vote by absentee ballot on July 11 and 12. The Chicago Park District is teaming up with Shedd and will have election information available for summer camp children in 230 park locations.

Fans can keep up with the status of the election and keep an eye out for celebrity endorsements via Twitter using #dolphinvote2016. Results will be announced July 13.