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Shedd Aquarium to Close Doors to the Public Through New Year, Continue to Amplify Digital Windows to the Aquatic World Online

November 17, 2020

The Caribbean Reef rotunda consists of a very large, freestanding saltwater habitat located just off of Shedd's Main Foyer.

Due to city and statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts, Shedd Aquarium will voluntarily re-close to the public beginning today at 5 p.m. in continued responsibility and commitment to the safety and health of people, animals, and the community. The aquarium will temporarily close for six weeks with a target reopening date of Saturday, Jan. 2.

“Although we continue to be a safe place to work and visit due to limited capacity attendance, facial covering mandate and rigorous social distancing protocols, we are taking this action proactively for the positive influence it may have for all,” said President and CEO Bridget Coughlin, Ph.D. “While the aquarium’s doors may physically close, Shedd’s mission has never been more alive and open. We remain committed to creating meaningful moments of learning, joy, engagement, and respite and to do our part to continue to support the recovery and healing of our city and state.”

All essential aquarium staff will continue to work onsite to maintain the highest standards of professional animal welfare and facility operations required to care for its 32,000 animals. Additionally, employees who can work from home will continue to do so. Shedd is committed to continuing to pay all staff. Those employees, such as guest relations staff, who do not have the option to work from home will be still be compensated for a similar duration of the initial closure should this second closure last as long. Many guest relations staff will be provided career development during the closure including taking online Spanish courses and learning more about marine biology.

The public is encouraged to follow Shedd’s social media channels and website for continued updates and offerings, including the world-famous penguin field trips that sparked joy across seven continents as COVID-19 first emerged earlier this year.

A tablet computer records the large glass-sided habitat in the Wild Reef.

New programs and continued digital offerings include:

  • Virtual Slumber Party – On Dec. 4-5 or Dec. 18-19, the whole family can log-on from the comfort of their home for “Zzz’s Under the Seas” a Virtual Slumber Party with Shedd. Explore all aspects of aquatic life, with a special emphasis on cold water adaptations, including up-close looks at animals at Shedd in their habitats or behind-the-scenes, and participate in hands-on activities, games and more. The next morning, enjoy breakfast with the belugas and yoga with the fishes.
  • Virtual Aquarium Adventures – Throughout December and January, the aquarium is offering special digital explorations into the lives, homes and behaviors of aquatic animals. Designed for kids enrolled in grades K-5, each session will focus on a new animal or environment, with up-close virtual encounters, hands-on activities and conversations with our experts. Each session will focus on a different animal or habitat focus and is designed to be fully engaging.
  • Virtual Animal Encounters – Come eye-to-eye with aquatic animals like penguins, sea lions and sea otters from anywhere in the world digitally. During each encounter, guests of all ages will meet some of their favorite animals while also connecting with the animal care team that cares for them so you can ask the experts questions in a live chat function.
  • Virtual Field Trips – Students K-8 can explore turtles, penguins and sharks from behind-the-scenes at Shedd virtually with their whole classroom, learning pod or homeschool group. Each program is 50-minutes long, interactive and engaging, includes a question-and-answer session with an animal care expert and comes with grade-aligned pre- and post-field trip lessons.
  • Stay Home With Shedd – To inspire the next generation of animal enthusiasts, the aquarium developed this limited video series that takes a deeper dive into kids’ favorite residents at Shedd, including penguins, turtles, sharks and fish. This digital learning initiative invites families, educators and learners (grades 3-5) to discover unique animal adaptations, explore their curiosities and foster a greater appreciation for our blue planet.
  • Underwater Beauty Live Cam – This habitat includes incredibly vibrant fish from across the globe, cohabitating in the Patterns room of Shedd Aquarium’s special exhibit, Underwater Beauty. These patterns help fish either hide among colorful corals, stand out to scare away predators or even attract mates.

By participating in any of the paid virtual programs listed above, becoming a member, making a gift or symbolically adopting an animal, the public is directly fueling the aquarium’s mission and helping to support excellent animal welfare, critical conservation research and ongoing virtual education efforts. A selection of tangible gifts and unforgettable experiences shopped either from Shedd’s online store or via the aquarium’s new holiday gift guide also provides additional opportunities for the public to give.

Shedd Aquarium is grateful to the community who enables its mission to continue with strength through this temporary closure, and whose consistent support helps to mitigate the financial impacts of COVID-19.