I encountered a family (who happened to be Filipino) at the Apo Island community center towards the end of the exhibit. I greeted them with a friendly "Mabuhay!" – a common Filipino "Hello!" – and asked how they enjoyed Wild Reef. Immediately, the family (from the young children to the grown-ups) started talking excitedly about all of the amazing animals they had seen; what were the favorites; what surprised them. I noticed that the grandfather was very quiet. After our brief encounter, as I was sending off the family to enjoy other Shedd exhibits, the grandfather took my arm and in a teary whisper said "Thank you, this feels just like home." He shared that he had grown up in the Philippines and that Wild Reef reminded him so much about his home. I was speechless. I could only think that this was a huge complement to our exhibit designers, aquarist and interpreters. This was proof of success! We brought the Wild Reef alive – on many different levels - to connect our guests to the amazing intricacies of coral reefs. Each time I am in the Wild Reef, I remember that family and the powerful impact the experience had on them. They are part of my inspiration for each encounter I have with our guests whether I am sharing the story of Apo Island or my favorite reef fish (the cleaner wrasse, by the way). You’ll have to stop by the Wild Reef to here those stories for yourself!"
"I started at Shedd when I was 25 – and my favorite memory is getting to tickle Kayavak’s tongue while shadowing with marine mammals!"
"This was in 1989 or so. I got an early-morning phone call from a pressman who was working on our old magazine, Aquaticus. He’d read my article about sea turtles getting caught in shrimp nets, and he said he was so moved that he wanted to know what he could do to help. He acknowledged that he shouldn’t have been reading the issue because, until it’s released to us, it’s embargoed information. But he wanted to help the sea turtles, and I told him how he could. It was one of those rare moments when I got feedback from a reader and knew that our publications were hitting the mark and inspiring someone—he sounded like Joe Sixpack—to make a difference."
"This summer my favorite memory was seeing a group of 15 teenagers from every corner of the city begin an 8 week program afraid to speak to anyone not a part of their immediate circle. By the end of the program, they had the confidence to speak with people from every walk of life and edge of the globe and proudly called themselves "Shedd Ambassadors"."
"Shortly after starting at Shedd, I met a family, who were members, that have an autistic child who was seriously afraid of the 4D Experience, but became obsessed with visiting the theater repeatedly. Soon after this, myself and the Guest Service staff had a special place for him to hang out outside the theater during the shows and eventually be built up enough courage to go into the Sponge Bob show and sit through most of the experience. Afterwards, his mother wrote me a letter commending the patience and kindness Guest Services to the family, and the child even developed his own language about how to interpret the 4D Experience. Now we see this family usually every summer and they hang out right outside the theater, sometimes going in or sometimes just watching from afar."
"ONE of my favorite memories about working at Shedd is the entire Amazon team coming together with the animal health staff to conduct ultra sounds on our freshwater stingrays."
"My favorite memory at Shedd was when my parents visited for Jazzin’ last month. After I gave them a tour of the exhibits and shared every animal fact I’d absorbed here, my dad gave me a huge hug and whispered that he was proud of me and the work we do here. It meant a lot because he’s not usually a sentimental guy."
"I used to volunteer in Marine Mammals. During breeding season we would watch the penguin exhibit from the lightwell. I thought it would be boring, but boy was I wrong! You’d be amazed at how entertaining the courtship between these birds can be….it was like watching a soap opera! The best part was after breeding season when I was making observations on the parents caring for their eggs. To my delight a chick popped out of an egg during my shift! I was egg-static!"
"I will never forget the moment I saw Ken Ramirez and Lisa Takaki standing and watching over the whales after the last of the animals was finally transported back home from Mystic CT. Many of the staff were standing around them, and there were definitely tears of joy and reunion in people's eyes. We did it! The family was back home and finally together again."
"My favorite memory of Shedd would have to be holding 401 in my hands, days after he had hatched. It was 3am, the aquarium was dark and deserted and after hours of cleaning, one of the trainers asked me to come downstairs and help feed the new chicks. There was only two at this point, 401 and 402 and holding this fragile little animal in my hands reassured all the reasons I spent so many years struggling to earn a place in this field. Babies are always fun, and to be able to be apart of their life has made my life so much more enriching."