Shedd's History of Helping Animals in Need

Amazon river dolphin Chico

1965 - In Florida, Shedd’s director discovered a young Amazon river dolphin kept in poor conditions by an animal dealer. Chico was rescued and brought to Shedd, living here for 16 years.

Hawksbill sea turtle Hawkeye

1977 – Hawksbill sea turtle Hawkeye, a star of the Caribbean Reef exhibit for 25 years,  arrived at Shedd as a 6-inch, 1-pound juvenile that had been confiscated from someone’s luggage at O’Hare International Airport. 

1989 – The Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground, disgorging 11 million gallons of crude oil into pristine Prince William Sound. Among the oiled and injured wildlife were hundreds of sea otters, including pups. A team from Shedd joined the around-the-clock recovery efforts at the otter rescue center in Alaska. Later, four nonreleasable pups from the spill became Shedd’s first sea otters.  

Orphaned sea otter pup Kachemak

1990 – Shedd’s reputation as an expert in rehabilitating sea otter pups was cemented when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked the aquarium to take a pup that had stranded in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. She was the first of a second quartet of motherless otter pups from Alaska that Shedd would take in and rehabilitate over the next 15 years.

A beluga calf found stranded near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.

1991 – Shedd assisted with the rescue and rehabilitation of a newborn beluga stranded near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Canada. At the time, no zoological institution had ever attempted the rescue of such a young beluga calf.

Shedd's sustainable seafood program aims to educate consumers

1999 – Shedd launched its sustainable seafood program to educate consumers about how their informed seafood choices could support healthy oceans.

African Penguins at SANCCOB

2001 – Shedd joined an international effort to rehabilitate more than 20,000 African penguins that were oiled when a cargo ship sank off the coast of South Africa.

Shedd's Animal Healthcare Center ensures that veterinary care is always close at hand.

2002 – Shedd opened its new Animal Healthcare Center to ensure that veterinary care is close by for Shedd’s animals and urgent care is available for rescued animals.

Green sea turtle Nickel was hit and nearly killed by a motorboat and now lives at Shedd.

2003 - When Nickel arrived at Shedd she was one of only a few rehabilitated sea turtles on display in a U.S. aquarium. She had been hit and nearly killed by a motorboat.

The Oceanarium renovation

2008 – Shedd temporarily closed the Oceanarium for renovation and improvements that would include the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery. During this time, many of the Oceanarium animals were moved to other zoos and aquariums.

California sea lion Biff with a trainer

2009 – Biff, a California sea lion, came to Shedd from Washington as part of a collaborative government/zoo and aquarium effort to relocate or remove sea lions that were jeopardizing endangered fish stocks.

Califoria sea lion Cruz

2012 – Shedd provided a permanent home to a young California sea lion that had been blinded from a gunshot wound to the skull.
Also, Shedd sent its marine mammals experts to join a rescue team in Alaska providing around-the-clock care to a stranded newborn beluga whale.

California sea lion Laguna

2013 –Early in the year, the Animal Response Team was in California assisting with hundreds of starving, stranded young sea lions during what biologists call an unusual mortality event. Shedd was notified of one emaciated pup, which had stranded, been rehabbed and released, then stranded again and needed a permanent home. We welcomed Laguna.

Rescued Sea Otter Luna was bottle fed when she came to Shedd.

2014 – Shedd’s partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium continued with the rescue of Luna, a days-old sea otter pup found stranded on a California beach. Also, Shedd began a long-term partnership with the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds to assist in the recurring rescue and rehab efforts for hundreds of endangered African penguin chicks abandoned too early each nesting season by their parents. 

Young arapaima fish

2015 – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services turned to Shedd for assistance in saving 102 young arapaima fish confiscated from O’Hare International Airport.

A California Sea Lion at CIMWI

2016 – Shedd provided a permanent home and rehabilitation to another stranded sea otter pup, Ellie. Also, Shedd animal experts worked with the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) to assist in caring for stranded sea lions and seals off the coast of California.

The Animal Response Team mark

2017 – Shedd announces official naming of the Animal Response Team and launch of the Sheddvocate program to engage the public. 


We’re looking for Sheddvocates to support animals in need! See how you can #ActWithShedd and make a difference for wildlife.