Friday, February 25, 2011

Critters caught up in the naming rights business

THis is always interesting to me, and I'm not even sure why. It's become commonplace to sell naming rights for new species as a way of funding research. The most famous example is the South American monkey Callicebus aureipalatti, whose specific name translates to "golden palace” — a gambling website that bought naming rights for $650,000. I didn't realize the fad included individual critters, though. Ford bought the right to name a zoo gorilla Henry. DreamWorks has deals with Zoo Atlanta and with a zoo in Spain, with the movie studio donating an unknown amount of money in exchange for naming a baby panda at each site Po, after the hero of the animated film Kung Fu Panda.
COMMENT: I don't see the harm in this, if the money is used well. The zoos had better be careful, though. What if Zoo Atlanta advertises itself as the place kids can see the "real Po" and the animal catches some bug and dies? Then you're the zoo that killed Po, and there will be economic repercussions for years. "He killed Po" might be carved on the zookeeper's tombstone.

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