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Animal Naming Contests


Owl Naming Contest

Matthew DeFrain

"Contest Winner Matthew DeFrain with Shadow, the Eastern Screech Owl"

Daggerwing Nature Center’s newest educational animal, an Eastern Screech Owl, was given a name.  An “Owl Naming Contest” ran between April 14 and June 1, 2012, and 193 name suggestions were received.  The selected name was “Shadow” submitted by Matthew DeFrain of Boca Raton, FL.  The winner received an original painting of an owl done by local artist Paul Cummings, Sibley’s Owls of North America folding field guide, and a one-on-one encounter with the owl. 

Shadow came to Daggerwing from the Treasure Coast Wildlife Hospital in March of this year.  She had been hit by a car and sustained head injuries that left her blind in the right eye, so she is unable to be released back into the wild.  She will remain in captivity at Daggerwing, where she will be used to educate visiting school groups and the public about nature and her wild relatives. 

Shadow can be visited at the nature center during regular operating hours.  She is also featured during a variety of programs.  For programming information click here or call the nature center at (561) 629-8760.



Alligator Naming & Artwork Contest

Sani the Alligator

American Alligator

Daggerwing Nature Center’s two-year-old resident American Alligator had outgrown his home, so he was returned to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary and was replaced with a new hatchling baby alligator. He needed a name.

For the second school-year in a row, third grade students from Hammock Pointe Elementary were invited to participate in an Alligator Naming and Artwork Contest. The children learned “alligator basics” (where/how they live, how they interact with their environment, interactions with humans, etc.). Then each student wrote an essay suggesting a name for the alligator, and each created a work of art depicting an alligator.
Winning entries were selected by The Friends of Daggerwing Nature Center, Inc. and the winners were announced at a special ceremony held the evening of Tuesday, May 1. The student finalists and their families had an opportunity to explore the nature center, exhibits, animals, and view the artwork and essays of all the finalists.  Kevin Figueroa was selected as the naming contest winner, and he named the alligator “Sani” which means “the old one” in Native American Navajo.  Kevin’s essay explained that this name is fitting because alligators have been around for millions of years.  Audrey Anderson was chosen as the artwork contest winner, and her piece was done in collage style and incorporated the alligator’s habitat.  The winners received certificates and prizes, and the essay and artwork were placed on permanent display at Daggerwing Nature Center.
The Alligator Naming and Artwork Contest reaffirmed Daggerwing Nature Center’s relationship with local students and the western Boca Raton community.

Hammock Pointe Elementary art teacher and nature enthusiast Mrs. Sirce Giveon lead the contest within the school. The contest was designed to incorporate nature into the school’s curriculum through cross-curricular teaching. Alligators was used as a theme to tie together the subjects of science, language arts, and visual arts. Many theorists say that this style of learning increases student motivation and encourages them to become more actively engaged in the learning process, and they learn more effectively.  

The teachers saw first-hand the students’ enthusiasm, and the kids couldn't wait to work on these projects from day to day. The naming and art contest was a success for both the nature center and the school

The newly-named alligator, Sani, and the winning essay and artwork are permanently on exhibit in the exhibit hall and is available for viewing during nature center operating hours.  The public is invited to meet and learn about Daggerwing's new alligator and watch him being fed during the “Alligator Feeding” program that occurs in the Daggerwing Nature Center exhibit hall.  Check the program calendar for current feeding dates and times. 

Audrey Anderson Alligator Contest Winners Keving Figueroa

Audrey Anderson
Artwork Contest Winner

Naturalist Lori Heath
with Sani the alligator
and the contest winners

Keving Figueroa
Naming Contest Winner



Contact Information

Daggerwing Nature Center Logo
Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park
11435 Park Access Road
Boca Raton, FL 33498
Google Maps
(561) 629-8760
Fax (561) 883-2269

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  • Sean Mallee
  • Lila Varel
    Assistant Naturalist

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