The name of a mountain lion cub - brought to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in May to replace two aging lions taken off exhibit - will be announced today.
A naming contest for the cub drew more than 1,400 entries, said Craig Ivanyi, executive director of the museum west of Tucson.
"It's a new thing for us," Ivanyi said. "We've never had a naming contest before."
Prizes for the winning entry, which will be announced in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony at the museum's Warden Oasis Theater, include a one-year museum membership and a prize pack from the Mountain Lion Foundation.
The museum has had changing policies on naming animals over the years.
"In the early days of the museum (which opened in 1952), it certainly had animals with names," Ivanyi said. "Then we kind of went much more scientific in the late 1980s" when animals weren't given names.
"I guess there were concerns about the natural history being lost by making too much of an individual rather than focusing on what that individual represents in the wild," he said.
Recently, Ivanyi said, thinking has changed on the matter of names.
"We've found that people connect with names," he said. "It allows people to make emotional connections to the animal they are experiencing."
He said the naming policy is meant to be "between the extremes."
"We want to be not too much on the cute side - but not be so cold and scientific that you lose the sense of connection," Ivanyi said.
He said the new cub is 6 to 7 months old and weighs 66 pounds.
if you go
• What: Ceremony to announce the name of a mountain lion cub recently put on exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The event will be part of the museum's Cool Summer Nights program.
• When: 7:30 p.m. today.
• Where: The Warden Oasis Theater at the museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road.
• Cost: Normal admission fees will be in effect.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz