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New Sea Lion Encounter at Shedd Aquarium Brings Rescued Mammals Face-to-Face with Guests

Participants go behind-the-scenes for an up-close, engaging, extraordinary experience

June 15, 2023

Sea lion Tanner sits behind the scenes.

Shedd Aquarium is launching a new sea lion encounter that provides guests with a new way to come face-to-face with these dynamic marine mammals. This new Extraordinary Experience will bring participants behind-the-scenes to uncover a variety of these impressive marine mammals’ natural behaviors. Discover how California sea lions traverse both land and water, potentially hear first-hand their loud, roar-like vocalizations and experience their impactful relationships with the animal care team. Sea lion encounters may include touch opportunities and dynamic training and play behaviors before a Shedd photographer snaps a final digital photo to wrap up the meet-and-greet.

Each 45-minute encounter will be unique, and guests will meet one of the rescued sea lions that call Shedd home. Additionally, participants can ask an animal care team member questions as they learn all about sea lion anatomy, diet and unique behaviors. As guests discover individual stories about the rescues, they’ll get a deeper understanding of the challenges these animals face in the wild and the importance of rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

While guests can sometimes spot the California sea lions swimming or resting on a ledge at the Grainger Sea Lion Cove in the Abbott Oceanarium, this program offers a deeper connection to these vocal mammals. The majority of the encounter will incorporate interpretation with the sea lions just a few feet away. There may even be opportunities for participating guests to use verbal or visual cues alongside an animal care team member to prompt the sea lion to display other natural behaviors. In addition, in some encounters, there may be a few moments for guests to feel a sea lion’s strong back. Shedd believes these multi-sensory opportunities are important for the learning experience when possible.

Shedd’s Extraordinary Experiences currently include opportunities to meet belugas, penguins and sea otters, as well as shark feeding tours. Extraordinary Experiences like these help further Shedd’s mission – by allowing visitors to dive deeper into their compassion and curiosity for the aquatic animal world and by supporting the aquarium’s work, including the Animal Response Team and other conservation and recovery efforts.

WHEN: This program is available starting in late July and will take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:45 p.m.

HOW: Guests can learn more and check availability on Shedd’s website:

The experience is $129.95 for adults and children 12 and older, $119.95 for children 6-11 and $103.95 for members. This price includes the encounter, entry and admission to all exhibits and available Animal Spotlights during the visit.

VISUALS: High resolution visuals of the sea lions at Shedd are available for download:
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez