Shedd Aquarium is Wishing Kukdlaa, the Newest Dolphin Calf, a "Fin-tastic" First Birthday

Kukdlaa Turns One on April 18, Chicago Aquarium Celebrates with Livestream Video and Milestone Updates

To celebrate a year of milestones and growth, Shedd Aquarium is hosting a livestream in the Abbott Oceanarium to give audiences at home a glance into the life of the aquarium’s newest Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) calf, Kukdlaa (KOOK-dlah), born on April 18, 2016.  Kukdlaa, which means “bubbles” in Tlingit, is the seventh dolphin at Shedd and the first-born to Katrl (kuh-TREHL), his mother, who gave birth in the Secluded Bay habitat with more than 40 animal care trainers and veterinary clinicians witnessing something never before been seen in the wild.

Throughout his first year, Kukdlaa has built relationships with the other Pacific white-sided dolphins in addition to Shedd’s expert animal care staff. Kukdlaa has mastered basic building-block behaviors, and reached six out of seven critical milestones. Since his birth, Kukdlaa has bonded with his mom, Katrl, learned to nurse, grown in length and weight, discovered fish, and is still working on weaning as he currently eats ten pounds of capelin and herring each day, in addition to nursing. But his most impressive milestone to date is his first birthday, of course!

 In addition, Kukdlaa participates in training and enrichment sessions with Shedd’s expert training staff. Training allows for advanced veterinary care practices at the aquarium along with enrichment by providing physical and mental stimulation. Training is completed through positive reinforcement and is conducted like a play session with food and toys, which builds relationship between the animal and trainer.   

About Pacific white-sided dolphins

Found in the cool waters of the North Pacific Ocean, Pacific white-sided dolphins are distinguished by their black backs, gray sides and white bellies. A suspender-like stripe runs down each side. Nicknamed “lags” after their unwieldy scientific name, Pacific white-sided dolphins are known for their amazing aerial abilities and are among the fastest swimmers in the ocean, clocking in at 25 miles per hour.

The names of Shedd’s Pacific white-sided dolphins are Tlingit, the endangered language of an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, specifically southeast Alaska and western Canada.

More information on how Shedd works to preserve and protect these beautiful animals can be found on the aquarium’s website,

Dolphins at Shedd Aquarium

Shedd welcomes approximately 2 million guests a year who have an opportunity to experience, connect with and care about this species of dolphin that they would likely never see otherwise in the wild. Studies show that visits to zoos and aquariums prompt guests to reconsider their role in environmental problems, take conservation action, and help to see themselves as part of the solution. Additional global studies also suggest that viewing charismatic wildlife like dolphins can influence the public's connection to a species, resulting in a willingness to participate in pro-conservation behavior - an important part of Shedd's mission.

VISUALS: Very few Pacific white-sided dolphin births have been witnessed in a zoological setting, none have been witnessed in the wild. The video is available for download below, as well as additional information on Kukdlaa and Pacific white-sided dolphins.
Photo/Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium

The livestream that will be live from April 17 – 21 giving audiences a special look into Shedd Aquarium’s Abbott Oceanarium and the Pacific white-sided dolphins. During the livestream, viewers might see Kukdlaa copying or mimicking behaviors of Shedd’s other young dolphins, Sagu and Makoa, or playing with his favorite things, kelp toys to tug on or balls. The livestream allows audiences the opportunity to experience, connect with and care about Pacific white-sided dolphins, a species that few people get to see in the wild.

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