The Shedd Aquarium announced the name of its three-month-old Pacific white-sided dolphin calf Wednesday morning after a vote by the aquarium’s youngest guests.
Pronounced KOOK-dlah, it means “bubbles” in Tlingit, the endangered language of an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, the Shedd says.
Young aquarium members revealed the name by holding signs that spelled it out. The announcement was made before about 100 children in the Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium before a Wednesday morning aquatic show.
“It was even a surprise for some of the guests who were attending the 10:30 a.m. aquatic presentation – a lot of them didn’t know we were doing this today,” said Nicole Minadeo, director of public relations at Shedd.
Based on the applause and cheers, “everybody seemed pretty happy about it,” said Maris Muzzy, manager of cetaceans and sea lions at Shedd.
Bridget Coughlin, the aquarium’s president, explained the voting process to the crowd before introducing the youngsters who unveiled the name.
“It was incredible to see how excited our young guests were not only about seeing the dolphin calf, but learning more about their species and their place in our oceans,” Coughlin said in a Shedd news release. “It’s our job to foster the next generation of animal and ocean health stewards.”
More than 12,300 voters, ages 18 and under, participated over the nine days of balloting, which ended Tuesday.
“The kids were so excited to be part of the process and to be learning about the names, and learning about Tinglit – which is an endangered language, and so it’s important to us to encourage people to keep some of those endangered languages,” Muzzy said.
The calf is the first for mother Katrl, who gave birth April 18. Kukdlaa is about 3.6 feet long and weighs about 50 pounds, according to the aquarium.
There are only 16 Pacific white-sided dolphins in North American zoos.