Volume 5, Issue 4 p. 1110-1118
PERSPECTIVE
Open Access

Should individual animals be given names in wildlife reintroductions?

Roger Edward Auster

Corresponding Author

Roger Edward Auster

Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Correspondence

Roger Edward Auster

Email: [email protected]

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Alan Puttock

Alan Puttock

Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

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Gareth Bradbury

Gareth Bradbury

Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

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Richard Brazier

Richard Brazier

Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

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First published: 27 June 2023
Handling Editor: Darryl Jones

Abstract

  1. Individual animals are often given names by humans. For example, names are attributed to domestic animals to acknowledge their closeness to people, some research studies use names to identify differences between individuals in a study group, or zoos often use names to tell stories that attract public or media attention.
  2. Publicly naming individual animals can provide opportunities in conservation, but there are also risks. In this perspective we exemplify such opportunities and risks in the context of wildlife reintroductions. We draw on examples and observations from our experience researching Eurasian beaver Castor fiber reintroduction in England, to encourage careful thinking before publicly attributing a name to an individual in reintroduction projects.
  3. Naming individuals in reintroduction can: be a low-cost engagement tool; help people relate to unfamiliar reintroduced species; encourage local ownership of reintroduction projects; enable an effective tool for communicating information about the species and ways to coexist; or support creative or cultural expression.
  4. Yet naming individuals in reintroduction could: risk misrepresentation of natural species characteristics; make it challenging to normalise the sense that the reintroduced species is a wild animal; unintentionally imply that humans have ownership or power over the animal; cause distraction from establishing viable populations due to focus on the individual; or result in human investment in individual animals, which may have influence on reintroduction outcomes if that animal later comes to harm or dies (naturally or otherwise).
  5. Synthesis and Applications. We argue there is more to the act of naming individuals than may first appear. If considering doing so, we call for careful thought about whether it is appropriate and how to go about it. While we intentionally refrain from concluding whether ‘to name or not to name’, we call for careful, informative, message framing that takes advantage of the opportunities and is prepared for future circumstances, when naming of individuals does take place.

Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

1 INTRODUCTION

Wildlife reintroductions are where a species is returned to a landscape in which they are now extinct (Seddon et al., 2014). They are increasing in popularity in response to global ecological and climate crises, as they can support conservation of a species (either by establishing new populations or by reinforcing others nearby), enhance wider biodiversity or contribute towards the restoration of natural ecosystem structures and functions, facilitating ecosystem service benefits (Brazier, Puttock, et al., 2020; Lawton et al., 2015; Seddon, 1999; Taylor et al., 2017). Alongside the ecological, human factors will be key to reintroduction success; if unresolvable conflicts arise with the reintroduced species, or between people about the species (or wildlife management), projects may end in failure (Auster et al., 2020, 2022; Dando et al., 2023). The concept of Renewed Coexistence refers to ‘… coexistence that is specifically associated with a reintroduced species, thereby one which was present in the landscape historically, but which will likely be a “new” presence for the humans living in the locality post-release’ (Auster et al., 2022, p. 14). To achieve it, reintroductions will need to approach reintroduction in such a way that conflicts can be anticipated and minimised, so the reintroduced animal can reside within the landscape and social and ecological benefits can accrue and be maximised (Auster et al., 2022).

In 1948, Idaho Fish and Game Department reintroduced North American beavers Castor canadensis to the Chamberlain Basin, USA. The release site was remote and difficult to access by land, so a method was devised whereby beavers were air-dropped using especially designed crates and surplus parachutes from World War Two; 75 of 76 beavers survived (Heter, 1950). The ecologist in charge recounted the design process, resulting in the naming of an individual beaver:

Satisfactory experiments with dummy weights having been completed, one old male beaver, whom we fondly named “Geronimo,” was dropped again and again on the flying field. Each time he scrambled out of the box, someone was on hand to pick him up. Poor fellow! He finally became resigned, and as soon as we approached him, would crawl back into his box ready to go aloft again. You may be sure that “Geronimo” had a priority reservation on the first ship into the hinterland. (Heter, 1950, p. 146)

Over 70 years since Geronimo's skydiving exploits, beaver reintroductions are continuing to take place, and Eurasian beavers Castor fiber are being reintroduced to England (Figure 1). Eurasian beavers (hereon referred to as beavers) are semiaquatic rodents that were historically present in England until approximately 400 years ago, when they were hunted by humans to local extinction (Brazier, Elliott, et al., 2020; Halley et al., 2021). They are now being reintroduced following a 5-year project known as the River Otter Beaver Trial (ROBT) (Brazier, Elliott, et al., 2020). UK Government legislation resulted in beavers being listed as a European Protected Species as of October 2022, thereby legally recognising them as a ‘native’ animal. As the first mammal to be officially reintroduced to England, beaver reintroduction has garnered significant public and policy interest and is likely to have significant ramifications for engagement in future reintroductions, as well as for perceptions of and interactions with beavers postreintroduction.

Details are in the caption following the image
Eurasian beaver feeding on vegetation on the River Otter, England (Credit: R.E. Auster).

As with Geronimo, humans often give names to individual animals; domestic animals or pets may be given names to acknowledge they are dear to people (Borkfelt, 2011); ecological researchers may use naming as a mechanism to identify differences between individuals within a study group (Benson, 2016); zoos may name animals to tell stories that attract public or media attention (Levin, 2015); or, as in Geronimo's case, names may simply come from a place of fondness and sense of humour.

In conservation, as we will demonstrate, there may be opportunities that arise when names are given to animals; Jarić et al. (2023) for example discuss the potential for individual animals (which have often been given a name) to act as ‘flagship individuals’ and serve as ‘figureheads of conservation marketing, advocacy or education’ (p. 2). There may, however, also be risks. In this perspective article, we will highlight benefits and risks associated with naming individual animals, with particular attention on wildlife reintroductions as we draw on our observations from the case of beaver reintroduction in England. Using examples, we will discuss the cases for and against naming animals in reintroductions, the key points of which are summarised in Figure 2. In our conclusion we will not, however, take a side, but instead highlight how these factors result in our call for careful consideration and message framing, if and where naming of individuals takes place in reintroduction.

Details are in the caption following the image
Summary of key points in the cases for and against naming individual animals in reintroduction projects.

2 THE CASE FOR NAMING INDIVIDUALS

2.1 Public engagement

Naming can be a useful tool for engaging with the public in conservation projects. For example, Diego the Hook Island giant tortoise Chelonoidis niger hoodensis was a ‘flagship individual’ who captured media attention while contributing towards a captive breeding programme for his species before his eventual release into the wild. Diego received higher levels of media attention than another tortoise which had contributed more offspring to the project, thought to be due to the presence of his name (Jarić et al., 2023). We have also observed the engagement of publics in beaver reintroduction through naming, particularly through public calls to suggest names which are widely picked up by the press and on social media.

There are many enclosed, fenced beaver projects in England; while a fenced project may not be a true reintroduction (as the animals are restricted to an enclosure), these enclosures are often used as educational tools to engage the public in beaver reintroduction more broadly, introduce publics to the species and inform publics about the impacts beaver activities can have. (At the time of writing, licences can be obtained from Natural England to release beavers into an enclosure, yet we continue to await details on licence requirements for further wild releases.) There have been fenced projects in England since 2000, but many more have come into fruition since the ROBT and there are now more than 25 projects (Heydon et al., 2021). Several of these beaver projects have run competitions where local people, schoolchildren or organisation members/supporters could suggest or vote on potential names for individual beavers at these projects, often receiving high levels of engagement. For example, Cheshire Wildlife Trust received over 200 suggested names for a pair of beaver kits in 2022, on which over 700 people voted and the winning names of Aspen and Bramble were chosen (Cheshire Wildlife Trust, 2022). In July 2021, the National Trust ran a poll on Twitter to choose the name of a beaver kit at their Exmoor enclosed beaver project (National Trust, 2021). 2759 votes were cast, with the winning name being Rashford (after the England international footballer, in the wake of the Euro 2020 tournament) (BBC News, 2021). And in January 2023, beavers were released into an enclosure in Hampshire, with 22 schools invited by the project leads to choose names for the released individuals: Chompy and Hazel (Beaver Trust, 2023).

Naming for public engagement in this way has similarly been used in other reintroductions of other species in other geographical locations: a pair of bearded vultures Gypaetus barbatus were reintroduced to Bavaria with the names Wally and Bavaria, chosen through engagement with local schoolchildren and a naming competition in a national newspaper (Schuhwerk, 2021; Vulture Conservation Foundation, 2021); in India the public were asked to suggest names for cheetah cubs in a reintroduction project via the Indian Government's website, with 3451 submissions reported and the names Aasha, Pavan, Nabha and Jwala chosen (Government of India, 2023); and the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute sought submissions to name two scimitar-horned oryx which, although not in this case are reintroduced individuals, was an activity actively used to raise awareness of an oryx reintroduction programme taking place in Chad—904 votes were cast with Savannah and Sinjah being the names chosen (Smithsonian Conservation Biology, 2017; Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, 2017).

2.2 Fostering a sense of local ownership

Opportunity to name individuals could encourage a sense of local ownership of a project; there is evidence that community members may associate with named animals in their local area, with ongoing interest in the fate of those individuals. Prior to the formalisation of the ROBT in 2015, a family of beavers of unknown origin was identified to have been living on the River Otter. Originally the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs intended to remove the beavers from the river, but a locally driven campaign resulted in Devon Wildlife Trust and partners being granted a licence to monitor the beavers for a 5-year period (conditional on health assessments). At this time, ‘many catchment residents did embrace the beavers as belonging within, or at least belonging to, their community’ (Crowley et al., 2017, p. 1853). Hence, some residents developed a personal attachment to and interest in the family of beavers in their area, which we have many times heard reference to through locally attributed names in the course of ROBT-related research; the original pair was unofficially named by a group of local people as Mr and Mrs Bob.

2.3 Education and understanding an unfamiliar species

Naming enables individuals to be recognised (Jarić et al., 2023; Levin, 2015) and through interest in individuals can come an interest in their stories, resulting in familiarisation with the natural history of a species (Chan, 2012; Tam et al., 2013). In wildlife reintroduction, people living in a locality may be unfamiliar with the reintroduced species or what coexistence will entail, having become used to a landscape in which the species has been absent (Auster et al., 2021a, 2022). Naming individual animals may enable understanding and connection with native species (Chan, 2012; Jarić et al., 2023; Tam et al., 2013), and we suggest it could similarly be utilised to enable connection with and learning about reintroduced species which may be perceived as a ‘new’ or unfamiliar presence. (This may be an area for research to explore the extent to which this can be realised and the level of educative benefit that can be derived, relative to reintroduction projects where naming does not take place.)

There are existing examples of naming in use for such a purpose in conservation projects. The Rutland Osprey Project regularly posts updates to their website for the public to follow and understand the movements of their ospreys Pandion haliaetus with the resident breeding female known as ‘Maya’. Maya was given her name as ‘it was decided it would be easier to talk about and write about her, and for people to relate to her if she had a name’ (Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, n.d.). This approach has similarly been taken in the aforementioned bearded vulture reintroduction project, as well as in other nonreintroduction-related migratory bird conservation projects such as the Dyfi Osprey Project (where, at the time of writing, the opening page of the project website (https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/) displays the most recent sightings of each bird by its given name), the British Trust for Ornithology's cuckoo Cuculus canorus tracking project (https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/cuckoo-tracking-project/about-project/updates-our-cuckoos) and Wildfowl and Wetland's Trust long-term Bewick's swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii recognition project (https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/news/a-bewicks-blog).

In our beaver-related observations, we have seen similar public interest in the activities of named individuals. On the River Otter at the time of writing, Mrs Bob still lives and breeds on the river. It has been over 7 years since the ROBT began, but Mrs Bob and her family continue to be known in the local area and draw groups of regular beaver-watchers (see Auster et al., 2021b for a case study of the social and economic benefits of beaver watching in this location). There is now a series of video diaries on Youtube (‘Mrs Bob and her family’), where videos are posted by a local enthusiast following the actions of the family (@sylviameller3378, n.d.).

2.4 Stimulating pro-conservation behaviours

Anthropomorphism refers to the attribution of human characteristics onto nonhumans (Root-Bernstein et al., 2013). Naming animals could be seen as an example of this in some cases, as giving animals a name provides them with an identity through which can come recognition of individual differences between that animal and others (Benson, 2016). While individual recognition may not itself always be anthropomorphic and be for scientific purposes (see, e.g. arguments made by primatologist Jane Goodall (Benson, 2016; Goodall, 1998)), naming can mean personality or value is attributed to the individual in an anthropomorphic manner (Benson, 2016). Some may argue this provides an effective and low-cost conservation tool, as assigning relatable values upon animals can enable people to in turn understand and connect with them, resulting in an increase in the perceived importance of those animals (Chan, 2012; Root-Bernstein et al., 2013; Tam et al., 2013). Indeed, young children often anthropomorphise to justify the protection of nonhumans (Chawla, 2009; Gebhard et al., 2003). Relating to animals can result in an increase in a sense of nature connectedness or empathy for those nonhumans, which in turn can lead to pro-conservation behaviours and contribute towards coexistence with wildlife (Chan, 2012; Jarić et al., 2023; Tam et al., 2013). As an example (albeit not from a reintroduction context in this case), the Lion Landscapes project in Africa claim that an individual lion Panthera leo which attacked livestock was tolerated better by local people after being given a personality with the name Kali (Dickman & Cotterill, 2022). Utilising individuals to stimulate pro-conservation attitudes and behaviours in this way is an example of the ‘Flagship Individual Approach’ (Jarić et al., 2023), and we suggest attributing value on reintroduced animals and nurturing a sense of connection through flagship individual approaches in reintroduction may be one way to encourage pro-reintroduction behaviours, and contribute towards Renewed Coexistence.

2.5 Enabling creativity and cultural expression

Following individual stories can also lead to creative expressions and the development of cultural connections with reintroduced species. In a notable example from Devon, a fiction book was published in 2017 as part of a creative arts project: ‘One of our beavers is missing!’ (BUDFAS, 2017). The story, which was made available to buy in local shops, told the tale of four named beavers on the River Otter, where the ROBT was taking place at the time. The story is a creative, fictional piece that follows the fortunes of an anthropomorphised beaver family, written and illustrated by schoolchildren from multiple schools in the local area (with support from teachers and a guest author). While the story is exciting in its own right, the text clearly demonstrates that the children were simultaneously learning about the species being reintroduced in their local area as it was written. For example:

The lodge is the proud home of our family of four beavers: adults Jeff and Stella and their kits Bob and Bella. […] Beavers have very large front teeth […] and they use them for gnawing trees. […] Their fur is very thick, soft and waterproof. (BUDFAS, 2017, p. 19)

3 THE CASE AGAINST NAMING INDIVIDUALS

3.1 Risk of misrepresenting natural characteristics

While there are potential benefits as outlined above, assigning names to individual animals and anthropomorphism (as introduced in Section 5) are practices that can also draw criticism. Concerns are often raised that personification or anthropomorphisms may result in nonhumans being represented in a humanistic way, potentially giving an incorrect understanding of the species and its natural behaviours (Root-Bernstein et al., 2013; Somerville et al., 2021). For people, knowledge about the self or humans is readily accessible (Waytz et al., 2010), so where there is little understanding of a nonhuman species (in this case a reintroduced species which may be a ‘new’ presence for local people), human feelings or social responses may be projected upon it in a way ill-befitting of their nonhuman characteristics (Hills, 1995; Somerville et al., 2021). When naming animals, humans make a choice on how to represent or perceive them in the names that are attributed (Borkfelt, 2011). When trying to foster an understanding of reintroduced species in society, there is arguably a risk that naming individuals may lead to a representation of that species that is not scientifically representative of its natural characteristics, with a risk that human attitudes towards that species may be influenced by misrepresentations in the longer term. Although they admit to making an exception in the case of Maya as referenced above, the Rutland Osprey Project is an example of a reintroduction project which seeks to evade this; they state on their project website that they are actively avoiding naming individual birds ‘in order to avoid anthropomorphism’ (Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, n.d.).

3.2 Exercising power and risking suggestions of dominion over wild animals

Borkfelt (2011) argues that naming animals is an act which exercises power over the nonhuman, as names assigned by name-giver(s) are not chosen by the animal but can influence how the animal is represented or perceived by humans. While we have discussed how anthropomorphism may carry a risk of misrepresentation of an animals' natural characteristics, so too can the prescription of a name where it does not holistically reflect the animal's natural characteristics or motivations.

In the case of reintroductions, new relationships between humans and reintroduced species are being established and the way in which reintroductions occur can influence future human–reintroduced species relationships (Auster et al., 2022, 2023; Coz & Young, 2020). As such, names given to individual animals in a reintroduction (particularly in the early stages) may influence how the species will be viewed in future, in turn determining future human behaviours towards the reintroduced species (Borkfelt, 2011). Hence, power over the reintroduced animal is held by those who choose the names (including by those who may partake in naming competitions as exemplified in Section 2). While it may be possible for well-chosen names to help set a positive course for a future relationship while representing natural characteristics of the species, it could lead to mischaracterisation of a species and its natural behaviours with negative consequences for the ways in which humans behave towards it in both the short and longer term.

Naming individuals is also an act that places a sense of value on those individuals, much in the same way as humans may do for a pet or domestic animal (Benson, 2016; Borkfelt, 2011), yet naming pets is another example of exercising power through naming; it places humans as superior by implying the nonhuman is not in full possession of its self (Benson, 2016; Borkfelt, 2011). In reintroduction projects, populations inevitably begin with small numbers of individuals, so they may at first seem to people to be a novel species (Auster et al., 2021b). Through the act of naming individual animals, there may be an inadvertent suggestion that the reintroduction practitioners are ‘in possession’ of those animals, or there may at least be a perception that those nonhumans are in some way connected to the reintroduction practitioners. In a previous study in which individuals who reported conflicts with beavers during the ROBT were interviewed (Auster et al., 2021a), some interviewees drew a link between the reintroduced animal and the ‘people that put them there’, rather than view the reintroduced species as a wild animal. As a result, there was higher potential for conflict between people about the species as there was a sense among interviewees that it was people who were responsible for conflict with the reintroduced species; accordingly, impacted individuals held a higher level of expectation of the management response required. Hence, we suggest naming individuals may have an influence on the level of ease to which a reintroduced animal can be socially normalised as ‘wild’ if the act of naming reinforces a perceived link between practitioner and the reintroduced animal. As such, we have previously suggested further research should explore how best to normalise the sense that a reintroduced animal is ‘wild’ rather than ‘reintroduced’ (Auster et al., 2021a), and the influence of naming may be one such area for further exploration, perhaps by comparing perceptions people hold of species that have been reintroduced between contexts where reintroduced individuals were given names, and contexts where they were not.

Alternatively, if naming exercises power over individuals, this may risk implication that humans have power over the reintroduced species, rather than the animal being perceived as a wild animal with which to coexist. This may set a troubling precedent by establishing a sense that humans are superior to the species that is reintroduced, or that the animal is ‘owned’ or ‘livestock’. As such, Andrews (2015) reports that researchers working with the wolf population in Yellowstone National Park, USA (which itself is a reintroduced population) purposely choose not to give names to individual wolves to remind them that ‘these animals are wild and not like our pets’. Similarly, the Rutland Osprey Project state they choose not to name the ospreys to avoid anthropomorphism because ‘all our Ospreys are wild birds’ (Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, n.d.).

3.3 Risk that focus on individuals distracts from establishing populations

Reintroductions seek to return species to a landscape, and by extension to establish self-sustaining populations (Armstrong & Seddon, 2008; Robert et al., 2015). Practitioners therefore need to maintain a population mindset to reach that goal. For example, beaver populations in England are currently small and fragmented, so are at high risk of inbreeding. To ensure healthy genetic diversity, restoration efforts will need to be upscaled, via population reinforcement (release of more individuals from other sources), or management as a meta-population (with active movement of individuals between populations) (Ritchie-Parker et al., 2022). Naming individuals, however, leads to a focus on the individual, and with attention drawn to the individual, less attention may extend to the wider population (Chan, 2012; Root-Bernstein et al., 2013). If there is focus on a small number of individuals at a key time when establishing healthy populations should be vital (Armstrong & Seddon, 2008; Robert et al., 2015), this may hinder the ability to achieve the goal of establishing a healthy and self-sustaining population. Indeed, Jarić et al. (2023) highlight that a risk of using captive or fictional flagship individuals (of which arguably named beavers in enclosures could be an example) might be giving a false sense about the stability of a threatened species (Courchamp et al., 2018), which in this context would refer to initial small populations of reintroduced animals.

3.4 Emotional responses to species management and individual loss may be a barrier to renewed coexistence

Focus on the individual can entail further challenges. As we discussed in the case for naming reintroduced animals, recognition of the individual can lead to investment in its fate (Chan, 2012; Gebhard et al., 2003; Tam et al., 2013). While this may help to support the protection of individuals and facilitate their continued presence in a landscape postreintroduction, caring attitudes towards individuals could make future conservation actions more challenging (Root-Bernstein et al., 2013). For example, there are cases in which translocation of individuals or lethal control may become necessary, such as if a beaver territory is established in an area that conflicts with human infrastructure (Campbell-Palmer et al., 2016). If humans have a personal attachment to the individuals in question, however, and are thus invested in their fortunes, it may become more difficult to implement the management actions without generating emotional responses or escalating social tensions (Levin, 2015; Root-Bernstein et al., 2013).

Personal attachment may also have unintended consequences when negative circumstances arise. Giving an animal a name indicates that humans hold it in higher regard (Borkfelt, 2011). If something were to happen and an animal upon which value has been placed comes to harm (whether naturally or otherwise), humans may experience an emotional reaction. For example, one beaver project experienced an unforeseen incident in which a beaver with a name was lost in a suspected road traffic incident. A statement was released by the project staff, which said:

We are all really upset and we know that many residents […] will be equally distressed about this news. (ITV News, 2021)

While unforeseen circumstances occur, so too do natural deaths. There is thus a need for careful, sensitive communications to manage expectations and handle such sensitive situations. If animals are named to engage interest or encourage local ownership, a resulting sense of closeness may come with a risk of humans experiencing a sense of loss or grief when that animal dies, in a similar way as we may do when we a pet or companion animal passes away (Chur-Hansen, 2010; Eckerd et al., 2016). It is important to give thought to the implications this could have for the future of a reintroduction project; if loss is experienced following investment in the individuals, will motivations or public support of a reintroduction persist, or will the opportunity of that project also have been lost?

4 CONCLUSION: THINK IT THROUGH

Opinions about whether to reintroduce a given species can vary, with different levels of support or opposition held among individuals with different interests (Auster et al., 2020; Bavin et al., 2023; IUCN/SSC, 2013; Niemiec, Berl, et al., 2020). Naming individual animals can be an effective and popular pro-reintroduction action that engages publics and facilitates an understanding of the natural characteristics of reintroduced species where a flagship individual approach is taken (Jarić et al., 2023). However, we have also observed problematic issues that may act as a barrier to successful reintroduction outcomes or influence the ability to foster coexistence with the species as a wild animal.

In this perspective, we do not advocate for or against naming per se, for we have observed both benefits and risks associated with the action of naming individual reintroduced beavers. We have instead sought to present these points to encourage thoughtful approaches and consideration of whether or not to name animals in a given project; whether to name individuals will in part be context dependent upon the reintroduction and its objectives and there is scope for continued research into the implications from different scenarios, but we believe there are broader implications of naming animals in reintroductions than may at first appear to be the case.

Accordingly, we strongly advocate that a careful approach to message framing surrounding the naming of individuals is essential to reduce the risks of adverse effects when a project does decide to publicly name their animals for reintroduction or educational benefit. When communicating potential of species reintroductions, moderate arguments that acknowledge concerns are more likely to be disseminated in society, but extreme pro-reintroduction messaging may be less likely to be shared and could risk polarising debate (Niemiec, Sekar, et al., 2020). Hence, when naming individuals and communicating their stories, we call for considered message framing (Kusmanoff et al., 2020). We argue for message framing that is informative and aims to support humans in familiarising with the reintroduced species and its natural characteristics as a wild animal: that message framing acknowledges both positives and concerns that exist about the species (and ways in which issues could be managed); and that messaging both prepares publics and is prepared for future eventualities including individual deaths. Intelligent approaches to naming that are mindful of potential adverse effects are vital if the risks are to be curtailed, and the opportunities of naming for public engagement and familiarisation with reintroduced species are to be realised, contributing towards the longer-term goal of Renewed Coexistence with reintroduced species.

AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS

Auster conceived the idea and led the writing of the manuscript; all authors discussed the ideas and contributed to the manuscript.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors thank Kirsty Frith for her thoughts, the Associate Editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive reviews that helped us to improve the manuscript, and Professor Charlie Sox for his insights.

    FUNDING INFORMATION

    The authors received no funding for this piece.

    CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT

    Two of the authors have pet animals with names. Otherwise, the authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

    DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

    This manuscript is a perspective piece drawing on case study examples. It does not include data.