Open 9 am - 6 pm

Experience the Aquatic Animal World at Shedd Aquarium This Fall

Chicago’s aquarium is open, come visit or experience a virtual animal encounter

October 06, 2020

The Man with Fish statue outside of Shedd's accessible entrance wears a cloth face mask.

This fall, Shedd Aquarium is offering more ways to connect to aquatic life onsite and virtually for families and adults. From immersive experiences like Stingray Touch where guests can dip their hands into a tropical pool and a 4-D Experience to bring on-screen action to life, to guests coming face-to-face with the infamous penguins in Polar Play Zone or on the computer with a Virtual Penguin Encounter. There are opportunities for anyone from anywhere to spark curiosity, compassion and conservation for the aquatic animal world with Shedd.

Purchase tickets in advance and learn about the safety measures in place. General admission tickets include access to all of Shedd Aquarium’s galleries and exhibits, including the newest special exhibit, Underwater Beauty – sponsored by Citadel. Chicago residents can also enjoy an everyday discount of 50%. Find out more on Shedd’s website.


  • 4-D Experience: For a small upgrade, 4-D Experiences bring on-screen action to life with special effects that tease the senses and bring guests closer to the action. In this theatre setting, there’s limited capacity for each showing to ensure there’s extra space for social distancing.
  • Stingray Touch: Included with general admission, guests can dip their hands into a shallow tropical pool to discover the texture of a school of stingrays at the seasonal outdoor exhibit. Open through the end of October, weather permitting.
  • Audio Tours: These free audio guides share everything guests might want to know about some of the aquarium’s most memorable species, from a beluga whale “who’s who” to the amazing rescue story of the green sea turtle Nickel. Download and listen now or during your visit!
  • Shedd’s Sensory Friendly App: This free tool allows guests to preview the aquarium’s exhibits, create a customized schedule, play games, explore a sensory-friendly map and much more. It’s sensory-friendly to help all guests feel welcome and supported!
Two trainers wearing masks hold fluffy penguin chicks, offering them fish.


While Shedd’s onsite Extraordinary Experiences remain paused, these virtual animal encounters are the latest way to come eye-to-eye with aquatic animals from the comfort of your home or anywhere in the world digitally. During each encounter, guests 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. Participating in virtual programs like this help fuel Shedd’s mission.

During this 45-minute experience, meet a penguin up close and discover what makes these birds so amazing. Shedd’s animal care team will take you in the penguin habitat to learn more about how penguins are able to "fly" underwater, stay warm in cooler waters and much more!

  • Dates: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. through the end of October
  • Cost: $49.95 ($44.95 Members)/per screen or purchase two links for the price of $69.95 ($64.95 members), to share this experience with a friend or family member

Sea Otters
Get up close and go behind-the-scenes during a sea otter play session. During the Virtual Sea Otter Encounter, watch them dive, hear them vocalize, observe as they socialize, learn how their sustainable, restaurant-quality food prep happens and so much more. During this live 35-40-minute experience, participants can explore their curiosities and learn interesting details about otters like how they have the densest fur of any animal, how grooming is critical, and how they eat 25% of their body weight daily.

  • Dates: Fridays - Sundays at 11 a.m. and Thursdays at 6 p.m. through the end of October
  • Cost: $49.95 ($44.95 Members)/per screen or purchase two links for the price of $69.95 ($64.95 members), to share this experience with a friend or family member

Sea Lions
While guests can sometimes spot California sea lions zooming around Grainger Sea Lion Cove in the Abbott Oceanarium, this program offers a deeper connection to these vocal mammals. During this 30-minute experience, you will meet one of the four rescued sea lions at Shedd up close and observe virtually in a session with our animal care team. Guests go behind-the-scenes to hear each sea lion’s unique rescue story, view their natural behaviors and learn more about their anatomy, diet and care. Plus, find out how Shedd’s Animal Response Team works with partners around the globe to rehabilitate animals in urgent need.

  • Dates: Mondays and Saturdays at 3 p.m. through the end of October
  • Cost: $49.95 ($44.95 Members)/per screen or purchase two links for the price of $69.95 ($64.95 members), to share this experience with a friend or family member

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