Shedd Aquarium on the move

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Shedd rescue penguins at play
Shedd rescue penguins at play

Did you know that Chicago’s own Shedd Aquarium rescues wounded, abandoned or otherwise trouble animals from the wild? One of their favorite rescue animals is the penguin. Shedd staffers work with local scientists to rescue them and rehabilitate them. Shedd even maintains a mini-habitat of penguins at Lurie Children’s Hospital so the kids can enjoy watching wildlife close up.

Nickel heading down
Nickel heading down

One of the many wonders at Shedd is a huge look-up-and-be-amazed round aquarium tank that sits in the middle of a two-floor exhibit. There you’ll see a once-seriously wounded but now seemingly very happy sea turtle whose back legs don’t work because of an encounter with propeller blades. Yet she propels herself just fine around the environment, even working up extra enthusiasm to push herself deep under the water using only her front legs. Her name is Nickel because, when she was rescued, she had a nickel stuck in her throat. And she’s a testament to the resilience of life in all its forms.

Don’t miss the shark exhibit. There’s nothing to compare to watching these creatures from ancient times as they glide noiselessly around their huge tank. The Shedd shark expert has 31 years in the industy, so she can tell you a lot about them. She explains that they are studying microbiome of water with a view to understanding more about the  11 species of shark they keep here. Regular feedings by keepers – the sharks respond instantly when shown a specific shape and given an audio cue – keep them from attacking their fishy tankmates for meal fodder.

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The atmosphere is warm and slightly humid on some of the floors. Everywhere you can gaze at your leisure at the sea creatures in all sizes hanging out in habitats that closely approximate their homes in the wild. Watch a shark embryo moving and growing inside its protective cocoon. Marvel at the colors and the shapes of dozens of other varieties of fish and mollusks. The watery exhibits are in many cases breathtakingly lovely and the gently bubbling or moving water is soothing to the spirit.
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Baby dolphin Makoa swims close to mom
Baby dolphin Makoa swims close to mom

Shedd recently facilitated the birth of a baby dolphin in captivity and invited the public to participate in a naming contest this past July. Thirty-four hundred people participated and voted for Makoa, which means fearless.

Back-legless iguana uses 3-D prosthetic
Back-legless iguana uses 3-D prosthetic

Shedd experts also have a 3-D printer that actually creates artificial limb replacements out of rubberized material; we saw one for their back-left-legless iguana. Fascinating to see the half dozen iterations they had to go through before they got the size and the flexibility just right. And now the iguana struts around his area like he owns the place.

Shedd offers multiple levels of membership. Give as much or as little as fits your budget and get free entrance and dozens of other perks. It’s a really special place in Chicago that you can’t fully appreciate until you’ve had a relaxed visit there.
And be aware that the CTA will take you right to and from their door. No need to pay big bucks for parking. It’s called the Museum Campus bus and you can plan out your route via the RTA Trip Planner.
P.S. For your viewing pleasure, a few more photos:

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