Shedd Aquarium is one of Chicago’s many great attractions that’s fun and educational for the whole family. That’s right, adults too.
I was invited to attend an after-hours tour of Shedd Aquarium where the rescue, rehabilitation, and education programs facilitated by the caring and professional staff were highlighted.
For instance, those entrance fees, membership dues, retail store purchases, and donations help the hundreds of animals at Shedd as well as many more animals the world over. Shedd is involved in rescue, rehabilitation, and education programs in Chicago and far beyond.
The sea lions at Shedd Aquarium have been rescued from the California coast. Changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures have led to higher than normal numbers of baby sea lions being abandoned to fend for themselves before they’ve been taught to hunt and avoid danger. Shedd participates in rescue and rehabilitation of the malnourished pups, and, in some cases, becomes the permanent home to sea lions that can’t be reintroduced to the wild. Cruz was found off the coast of Santa Cruz, rehabilitated, and finally settled in at Shedd Aquarium when he was found to be blind and unable to survive on his own. Cruz swims and plays with the other sea lions and serves as a teaching tool for the millions of visitors to Shedd.
Ninety-five percent of the live corals at Shedd Aquarium come from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) due to customs confiscations. Without means to keep corals alive, FWS turns the corals over to facilities such as Shedd. The corals in the smaller tanks are alive and thriving; the “corals” in the larger habitats at Shedd are manufactured to protect the real thing from hungry coral eating critters.
Nickel, the big sea turtle in Shedd’s central Caribbean Reef habitat, was rescued, rehabilitated, and given a permanent home following a run-in with a boat in Florida that damaged her shell. It was a treat to see Nickel––named for the foreign object found in her belly upon arrival at Shedd––munching on lettuce and enjoying a back scratch from the water’s surface behind (or above) the scenes.
The sharks! Shedd Aquarium has many sharks of a variety of species. Shedd is in charge of the zebra shark breeding program as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. That means that zebra sharks born––hatched from eggs––at Shedd Aquarium are living all over the country at various zoos and aquariums so those facilities’ visitors get to see and learn about the threatened species.
Then there’s the lizard with the prosthetic limb (you read that right), and a special exhibit, Amphibians. Shedd Aquarium has so much I wouldn’t want to give it all away here. I’m definitely going to return soon for Stingray Touch and much more.
Shedd Aquarium is a Chicago gem that is great for tourists and Local Tourists alike for learning about and helping animals all over the world.
Featured photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium, all others © Suzanne White Montiel.