Shedd Aquarium Dolphin Calf Named by Chicago Kids

The calf born in April at the Shedd is named after a word in the Tlingit language meaning "bubbles"

The newest member of the Pacific white-sided dolphin family at the Shedd Aquarium now has a new name and it was picked by children—Kukdlaa.

Meaning “bubbles” in the Tlingit language, it is the tongue spoken by a native tribe that lives in southeast Alaska where the species is commonly found.

Over a week-long period, guests’ under 18 years old had the opportunity to cast votes on five different potential names for the calf born on April 18. The other four names picked by the marine mammal trainers to be voted on meant “tide lands, “wilderness” “life” and “spirit” in the Tlingit language.

“Our president and CEO [Dr. Bridget Coughlin] she’s been at Shedd for 3 months so this is her first dolphin and calf naming,” Andrea Rodgers, VP, Communications & Public Relations said. “She talked with the audience and we had seven kids from member families that held a sign with one letter and they flipped them over.”

The unveling took place prior to the aquatic show at 10:30 Wednesday morning.

Kukdlaa’s mother Katrl (meaning “to breathe air”) is the Shedd’s largest dolphin at 7 feet and 260 pounds. When Kukdlaa was born the calf was nearly half the length of the mother, according to the Shedd Aquarium’s website. Kukdlaa is the first calf for the 28-and-a-half year old Katrl.

The birth back in April marks the 16th Pacific white-sided dolphin in accredited North American aquariums and zoos.

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