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For MSLCE Student, Aquarium Internship Means Helping to Name a Baby Dolphin

By Seth Zimmerman

On April 19, 2016, the Shedd Aquarium welcomed the birth of a baby Pacific white-sided dolphin. Mother Katrl’s baby was three feet long, weighed about 25 pounds and was as cute as one would expect a baby dolphin to be. But what were we to name the baby dolphin? Assemble the dolphin naming committee!

I don’t believe that was their actual name, but let’s go with it for the time being. Made up of teams from across the aquarium, everyone got together to figure out the best way to name this bundle of joy. Ideas were thrown across the room, and in the end the best option was to leave it up to the public. After all, this is election season.

For one week we set up voting booths across the aquarium and open voting to those guests 18 and younger. And to keep in fun and fair, people from various departments took shifts working the booths. I had the opportunity to volunteer with people from marketing, central station, PR, and even one of the aquarium veterinarians. They taught me about the dolphins, which I in turn passed along to guests, and I showed them some tricks to get people engaged. You’d be surprised how many people thought that they had to pay in order to vote. But now I can tell you anything you want to go know about Pacific white-sided dolphins. Go ahead, ask me anything.

Oh, and the dolphin’s name? Kukdlaa. It means bubbles, specific to the ones the Pacific white-sided dolphins make when they are swimming.

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