National Zoo asks public to name 3 cute black-footed ferrets

The National Zoo is asking for help in naming their three new black-footed ferret kits. (Courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute)

The National Zoo is calling for the public’s help to name their three new black-footed ferrets.

The adorable kits — one female and two males — were born on May 16 to 3-year-old mother Potpie and 1-year-old father Daly at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The public can see the kits grow up on the zoo’s Black-Footed Ferret Webcam.

The public will choose from a list of names provided by the institute’s carnivore keepers, which reflect the animals’ significance as “a distinctly North American species,” according to a news release.

Voting, which goes through Sunday, will take place in three different ways. To name the female ferret, people can cast one vote per day on the zoo’s website. One of the male’s names will be selected by current Smithsonian’s National Zoo members via an e-newsletter poll. The other male will be named by players of the Zoo Guardians, the zoo’s educational mobile app game.

The name choices for the female ferret are the following:

  • Americana: Many prairie species’ scientific names include Americana;
  • Aster: A purple flower native to the American prairie;
  • Prairie Rose: A species of rose native to central North America.

The name options for the male ferret selected by National Zoo members are the following:

  • Albus: In honor of the pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhychus albus), an endangered fish;
  • Cupido: In honor of the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido);
  • Swifty: In honor of the swift fox.

The name choices for the male kit named by Zoo Guardians players are the following:

  • Aspen: Short for “quaking aspen” — a plant native to the American prairie;
  • Cottonwood: A plant native to the American prairie;
  • Falco: In honor of the prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus).
The public will have until Sunday to select their preferred names for the zoo’s three black-footed ferret kits. (Courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute)

The announcement of the baby ferrets’ renaming comes a month before the 40th anniversary of the discovery of their species, said Will Pitt, acting deputy director of the National Zoo. It was originally thought that the black-footed ferret was extinct.

“This species has made a remarkable recovery thanks to the power of collaborative conservation science and animal husbandry,”  I am thrilled we can honor this milestone and success by inviting our fans to help name Potpie’s kits,” Pitt said.

In August, the Black-Footed Ferret Species Survival Plan will conduct a genetic assessment of the entire population managed in human care. This assessment, according to the release, will determine if the kits remain in Front Royal, are transferred to another breeding facility or join the United States Fish and Wildlife Service preconditioning program to prepare for their release into the wild.

The winning names will be announced on July 27.

Jose Umana

Jose Umana is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. He joined WTOP in 2020.

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