Help The Shedd Aquarium Name Its New Baby Beluga Whale

WBBM Newsradio Staff
November 16, 2019 - 3:27 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Shedd Aquarium needs the public's help in naming its new baby beluga whale.

The Aquarium launched a public vote to decide on a name for the beluga calf born at the aquarium in early July. Guests at family overnight event Nov. 15 got first pick to weigh in on their favorite name options, which were chosen by the beluga care staff.

The public can now vote on the few chosen names in the Pod Poll 2019, both online or in person during a visit. Voting closes the evening of Nov. 21 and the winning name will be announced on Friday, Nov. 22, according to the museum.

(Shedd Aquarium)

“It was such a wonderful surprise when we got to tell the kids and families at the overnight that they were going to help us choose a name for this special calf,” said Samantha Norton, senior director of learning programs at Shedd Aquarium. “We are looking forward to sharing that same special moment with guests, school groups and more throughout all of next week as the vote continues.”  

As is customary for the belugas at the Shedd, the five name options that the public can vote on come from the language of the Inuit, the native people of the beluga’s native Arctic range: 

  • Annik (AH-nik), meaning blizzard
  • Imavik (EE-mah-vik), meaning ocean
  • Ikullak (EE-koo-lak), meaning confident
  • Naniitchuk (nah-nee-EET-chuk), meaning brave
  • Kulu (KOO-loo), term of endearment for babies and young children

While the other names were selected by the animal care team, the last one was chosen by participants in one of the Shedd Adventures trips focused on beluga whales in Canada.

The beluga whale calf has been growing steadily since it was born on July 3 of this year and currently weighs more than 330 pounds, the aquarium said. The calf’s mother, Mauyak, has had four calves with the most recent being Kimalu in 2012. This makes the calf the first beluga born at the aquarium in seven years.

“From day one, this calf has been a strong, playful and independent addition to the pod, so many of the names we chose reflect his personality,” said Maris Muzzy, manager of whales and dolphins at Shedd Aquarium. “The calf has provided incredible data as we’ve observed his growth and behavior — and this is valuable information that we are already sharing with our partners who can use and interpret the information as they monitor and protect wild belugas and habitats that are critical for their survival."