Name the Baby Dolphin

Help us name Shedd's Pacific white-sided dolphin calf!

Meet SAGU, the 4-month-old Pacific white-sided dolphin calf.

To celebrate the announcement, Shedd is giving away a free Shedd Pass for the first 100 guests to purchase their tickets on site.

Shedd's marine mammal staffers carefully selected five words from the Pacific Northwest Tlingit language (with translations) that describe the calf or his personality. We then asked our guests, fans and supporters to vote online for their favorite name.

Atshi (AHT-shee)                     music or singing
Kann (kahn)                            dolphin
Kisaani (kihs-AH-nee)              boy
Kusook (COO-sook)                play
Sagu (SAH-goo)                      joy

Voting took place from Sept. 24 through the morning of Oct. 12, 2012. Guests were able to vote once a day. 

View more videos on NBC Chicago's website.

Community Involvement
In addition to online voting, five Chicago Public School classrooms represented one of the five names, serving as student ambassadors. Participating classrooms wrote essays, created visual elements such as posters and photos, and shared their own research papers to help persuade online voters to pick their name!

Find out more about the classrooms and their involvement.

Tlingit and Shedd's naming tradition
The names of Shedd’s Pacific white-sided dolphins come from the language of the Tlingit, a large group of indigenous people in coastal Southeast Alaska and western Canada, where Pacific white-sided dolphins are found. The name of the calf’s mom, Piquet (pee-KEHT), means “female of small structure,” and she is the smallest of the adult dolphins.

Shedd has a long tradition of giving its marine mammals names that reflect the geography or the culture of the region where those species occur in the wild. Thanks to programs to revive and preserve the Tlingit language in Alaska, at the community level and at institutions of higher learning, Tlingit dictionaries are available. For Piquet’s calf, the trainers researched a number of words that could describe him, finally selecting five that have the most meaning for this significant birth.


Other Tlingit connections
The totem pole in the Abbott Oceanarium was carved on site in 1994 by Nathan Jackson, one of the most accomplished and respected Tlingit and Alaskan artists. Jackson, who has been creating traditional totem poles and masks for 40 years, uses hand tools to carve animal figures into hollowed half-logs of western red cedar, finishing with traditional colors. Shedd’s totem pole features a wide-eyed bald eagle, which clutches a salmon in its talons, and a grinning killer whale, both Tlingit tribal crests.

Give Now
Our animal care team works round-the-clock to monitor Piquet and her calf. As a not-for-profit organization, we rely on your support to provide top-quality animal care to all 32,500 animals that call Shedd home. Please consider making a donation or becoming a member today!

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