The NBA's New Orleans Hornets will become the Pelicans beginning in the 2013-14 season, team owner Tom Benson announced today.
Benson said the new name - unveiled complete with a logo of a stylised bird with a fierce glare - is a nod to the pelican's long association with the state of Louisiana, nicknamed "The Pelican State".
The pelican has been the state bird of Louisiana for more than a century and can be found on the state flag and seal.
Benson also noted that the species was nearly wiped out in Louisiana, but has come back and was removed from the endangered species list in 2009.
"When we purchased the basketball team, it was a priority to change the name to reflect our culture, our community and our resolve," Benson said.
"The Pelican does that.
"Our region has been hard hit in recent years and the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and determination to comeback, to fight and overcome. The pelican symbolises that.
"The synergy of this name, this bird and the future of our state and region are intertwined.
"In three, five, 10 years from now, it will be not only be a name of a sports franchise but it will also be the face of the continued recovery of our region."
The team kept the Hornets nickname when it relocated from Charlotte for the start of the 2002-03 season.
New Orleans previously hosted the Jazz from 1974-79 until the franchise left for Salt Lake City and kept that nickname.