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Shedd Aquarium Announces Reopening to the Public

Guests Encouraged to Stretch Their Wings and Visit the Animals That Brought Joy During Quarantine

June 24, 2020

Three penguins stand on a ledge overlooking a habitat full of sharks.

Shedd Aquarium, in accordance with citywide health and safety guidance, is ready to seamlessly, joyfully and safely reopen its doors to the public following 16 weeks of closure due to COVID-19. Aquarium members will be among the first welcomed back beginning Wednesday, July 1 followed by the general public on Friday, July 3. New, stringent operational protocols and requirements have been implemented to ensure maximum safety and health of all staff and guests.

“After closing our doors for nearly four months to do our part in supporting public health, we are elated at the opportunity to welcome people back to Shedd Aquarium to look nature in the eye and in person at the aquarium,” said Bridget Coughlin, Ph.D., president and CEO of Shedd Aquarium. “These last few months have challenged and fundamentally changed us all. Just as people across Chicago and the world relied on online and digital experiences with animals like the rockhopper penguin, Wellington, for comfort, we know seeing animals in person is irreplaceable. We are eager to welcome the communities that supported us and our reopening. Experiencing our Mission alongside all of Chicago fuels us and has never been more important than it is now.”

Shedd Aquarium has developed a phased approach to reopening that includes new protocols such as highly limited admission capacity, safe social distancing and increased air filtration, cleaning and sanitation measures throughout the 276,000 square feet of public space at the aquarium. New visitation requirements will also allow guests to safely stretch their wings and visit animals from green-winged macaws to red-bellied piranhas. Full operational adjustments and know-before-you-go information is available at Among those include:

- New, separate entrance and exit points
Limited hourly building capacity
Timed-admission to maintain an even flow of guests throughout the day
Required face coverings (ages 2+)
Social distancing of at least 6 feet required
Circulation paths to encourage one-directional flow
Additional handwashing and sanitization stations
Expanded sanitization and cleaning regimen, including frequently scheduled cleaning on high-touch surfaces and deep cleanings every night
Physical barriers installed in places where social distancing cannot be maintained
 Temporarily pausing experiences such as the 4-D theatre and aquatic presentations to reduce large gatherings and groups

A rockhopper's head is topped in tufted feathers

With the reopening, Shedd has called back 120 of its furloughed staff members to welcome guests and help them seamlessly navigate through their new experience.

Aquarium members have early access to advance ticket selection starting today. Online ticket sales for the general public will begin at noon on Thursday, June 25. Purchasing a ticket in advance online or by phone at 312-939-2438 is required, due to new timed admission entry.

In addition to on-site experiences, the public can also continue to connect with Shedd through its new virtual Summer Splash Camp offering now through July 31, and on the water throughout the summer with the relaunch of its Kayak for Conservation program through a limited-time pay-what-you-can registration fee.

Although the aquarium’s doors may be reopening, additional funding support remains crucial to Shedd’s continued operations. In addition to purchasing a ticket to visit, other ways to support the aquarium include giving to the Shedd’s It’s Time online fundraising campaign, becoming an aquarium member, symbolically adopting an animal or making a one-time donation.

Shedd Aquarium thanks our leading sponsors, Brian Kenney and Kristin Longley/GATX, Northern Trust, Anna and Bob Livingston, and the Reed Family Foundation for their generous support of Shedd Aquarium’s mission and efforts to reopen. The aquarium would like to recognize and thank donors that also significantly contributed to our reopening: The Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Byron Smith, AbbVie, Rick and Dixie Erwin, Katie and Brent Gledhill, Paul and Amy Carbone, Paula and David Epstein, Ty and Anne Fahner, Kathryn and John Gilbertson, Anders and Donna Gustafsson, Jerry and Jayne Krulewitch, Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, ITW, JPMorgan Chase, Tom and Alissa King/KeyBanc, Chris and Nikki Klingenstein, David and Lesly Koo, Peoples Gas Community Fund, PFK Family Foundation, Walder Foundation, Jane Warner and John Hegener, and William Blair & Company.

VISUALS: High resolution photos and video of Shedd Aquarium, including images of the pre-opening preparation taking place, are available for download: https://personal.filesanywhere...

Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin