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Shedd Aquarium Animals, Guests Get Halloween Surprises

Carved pumpkins, decorative skulls, fake skeletons on exhibit at the aquarium as part of animal care

October 19, 2020

A rockhopper penguin critically examines a pumpkin placed in its habitat as enrichment.

From now through Halloween, Shedd Aquarium has introduced themed treats, carved pumpkins, decorative skulls, fake skeletons and more on exhibits throughout the building. Guests who plan a visit through October can try to spot all the pumpkins and keep count or see if they can spot the full-body fake skeleton that rotates exhibits every day. But these are not simply decorations, it is actually part of animal care and welfare.

Animals from reef fishes to penguins receive these themed treats and experiences to enrich their days with something new that encourages natural behaviors or simply changes their environment to allow them to explore new sights, smells and tastes. Shedd’s animal care team creates these opportunities adapted to each animal. Sometimes the decorations can double as a slow feeder to encourage reef fishes to express natural foraging behaviors while others can double as a shelter for other fish. A few of the carved pumpkins were also created by high school students participating in the Shedd Academy program.

Beyond holiday-themed items, this type of enrichment can come in various forms including changing water temperatures, play sessions with toys, interactions with caretakers and puzzles or special treats. This is incredibly important for the care and welfare of the animals by helping them learn, stay active and form relationships with aquarium staff.

Guests can plan a visit to come face-to-face with the aquatic animals and view their natural behaviors with the Halloween themed items in various habitats around the aquarium. For those unable to visit in person, there is a chance to see it on the Underwater Beauty Live Cam or follow along on Shedd’s social channels.

VISUALS: High resolution photos are available for download:
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez