Often times, when a zoo welcomes a new baby animal into the world, it holds a naming contest to let the community have a chance to get involved. Going along with that tradition, the Como Zoo and Conservatory recently posted a link on their Facebook page to name a newborn zebra foal at the zoo.

The naming contest has come down to four names for the community to vote on, including: Lydia, Claire, Elsie and Nia. The name Lydia is being championed by family and friends of Lydia Kimlinger (formerly Lydia Armbruster), who was diagnosed with High Grade Neuroendocrine Carcinoma in April 2018. The symbol for Neuroendocrine Carcinoma is zebra print and the zebra is a mascot for those diagnosed with the rare cancer.

“Lydia continues to meet the challenges of neuroendocrine carcinoma. Her loving and humorous spirit continues to break through, she is the strongest person I know and I am proud to be her Mom,” said Mary Kimlinger Armbruster.

Lydia’s cancer originated in her pancreas and is aggressive. According to Kimlinger Armbruster, Lydia has been treated with multiple chemotherapy medications and received radiation for the tumors in her bones.

“We love Lydia so much and if we are able to make this happen, it will be something so special for her and her family,” said Serena Randolph, a close friend of Lydia’s. “And while Lydia is the heart and soul of this, our hopes of winning this vote to name the zebra is that we will help bring more awareness to Neuroendocrine Carcinoma.”

To vote, go to the Como Zoo and Conservatory Facebook page and follow the link on the zebra survey post, or visit surveymonkey.com/r/KMC2NPQ or bit.ly/2XAFJ6I. The survey ends on Monday, June 17, so vote soon to help name the zebra Lydia.

“This would be a great way to honor Lydia and her strength against this cancer, as well as bring awareness to all fighting this rare, devastating cancer,” Randolph and Kimlinger Armbruster said in a recent Facebook post about the survey.

According to Randolph, neuroendocrine (NET) cancers are associated with the zebra because, in medicine, the term “zebra” is used in reference to a rare disease or condition.

“Medical students are taught to assume that the simplest explanation is usually the best, i.e., it is usually correct to look for common rather than exotic causes for disease. Doctors learn to expect common conditions, hence the phrase: ‘If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras,’” Randolph said in the Facebook post. “But zebras do exist, and the unlikely can and does sometimes occur … ‘When you hear hoofbeats, sometimes it’s a ZEBRA.’”

When it comes to explaining Lydia’s type of cancer, Kimlinger Armbruster turns to an explanation given to her by Susan Meckler Sylvan, the 2018 Monica Warner Award winner.

“Susan has been a pillar of support and I feel she explains this cancer best: ‘A Neuroendocrine Tumor (NET) is a rare cancer type that forms in neuroendocrine cells. These cells can be found in any organ in the body that secrete hormones. Think pancreas, thyroid, lungs, kidneys, cervix, ovaries, pituitary, prostate, gastrointestinal tract, and skin,’” Kimlinger Armbruster said.