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Staff member Christy Sterling sits among the rocks in Shedd's Polar Play Zone penguin habitat. She has a wide, warm smile.

Christy Sterling

Supervisor, Marine Mammals

Christy Sterling’s expertise in caring for and rehabilitating sea otters began with orphaned pup Kiana in 2005.


B.S., marine science, Coastal Carolina University.

“The best part of my job is the relationships I build with all the animals!”

Christy Sterling oversees the penguin and otter area of the Abbott Oceanarium and assists in both staff and animal training. Like so many other members of the Marine Mammals department, she began her Shedd career as an intern, starting in 2003, then volunteered in Marine Mammals until she joined the team providing around-the-clock care to orphaned sea otter pup Kiana in 2005. After her pup-shift position, she held a number of other temporary positions as well as continued to volunteer, adding to her expertise, until she was hired full-time in 2009.

 In December 2011, Sterling was sent to Monterey Bay Aquarium to assist with a stranded southern sea otter pup. She chaperoned the otter, later named Cayucos, to her new home at Shedd in January 2012. Sterling has also distinguished herself in the creation of colorful “cakes” for the sea otters—blocks of ice and other otter playthings decorated with a clam-based frosting for a variety of special occasions.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in marine science from Coastal Carolina University.