Monday | May 29, 2017
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Naming contest held for cetacean YouTube star

Keo’s baby became a YouTube star when her birth was videotaped.

Now the people at Dolphin Quest Hawaii who take care of Keo’s baby and 12 other dolphins that delight visitors to a Big Island resort say it’s time to hold a name-the-baby contest.

Keo’s baby, which will be two months old on Saturday, needs a name and so do her two young playmates, the babies’ caretakers at Dolphin Quest Hawaii said Friday.

Keo, a 12-year-old first-time mother, gave birth on Sept. 17 in a manmade lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort, where visitors are encouraged to touch and swim with the dolphins.

“We have little baby milestones and she surpasses every one of them. She is growing beautifully and very inquisitive in her environment,” said Katie Rice, Dolphin Quest Hawaii’s manager of marine animals. “When all three of them are playing together it is really adorable.”

Keo’s baby is “bright, alert and a bit rotund,” said Michelle Campbell, Dolphin Quest’s director of animal management. The 27-year-old Pele gave birth to a “momma’s boy” who likes to melt into the arms of his trainers, and 28-year-old Kona’s male calf is adventurous and “ready to take on the world,” Campbell said.

As of Friday, Keo’s birth video had been viewed 53,511 times. The video shows Keo in labor with tail emerging first and then baby popping out. The calf darts to the surface for air before returning to swim by her mother’s side.

Dolphin Quest Hawaii officials have said that in the wild the survival rate of babies born to first-time mothers is about 50 percent. Rice said Keo’s baby is doing fine, and all the dolphin babies have surpassed the crucial 30-day mark and are thriving.

Keo’s baby likes being a star, resort officials say.

“I think she is a diva … and she knows it,” said resort spokesman Mark DiMartino.

Submissions for names should be Hawaiian words, preferably ones reflecting each baby dolphin’s personality. The contest runs through Dec. 14. Suggestions can be made in person or online. Winners will get a swim for two with the dolphins and a photo CD to remember the experience.