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A rockhopper penguin chick flaps its wings during a social encounter with an adult rockhopper.

Photo by: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

What is Animal Wellbeing?

Wellbeing is defined as a state of being comfortable, healthy or happy. At Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facilities like Shedd, this is achieved by looking at care holistically and giving every animal in our care lifelong opportunities to thrive. We believe the wellbeing of the animals in our care is our moral responsibility and foundational to our mission.

Our Commitment to Animal Wellbeing

Animal wellbeing happens in a variety of ways across our mission – from daily actions to large-scale investments. This commitment to wellbeing is further outlined by AZA’s Strategic Framework for the Wellbeing of Animals. We support this culture of care by:

  • Innovating: Finding new ways to provide and evaluate wellbeing for the animals in our care, such as our proactive participation in a third-party Cetacean Welfare Assessment.
  • Learning: Continually evaluating and improving animal care processes through the latest science, such as advancing our robust animal enrichment program.
  • Sharing: Communicating knowledge, tools and best practices with scientists, peers and the public, as evidenced by our participation and leadership in ReShark’s StAR Project.
  • Collaborating: Strengthening existing relationships and cultivating new ones that meaningfully contribute to the wellbeing of animals everywhere, as demonstrated by our Sustainability Team’s efforts to raise and distribute larval fishes to partner institutions.
  • Advocating: Speaking up on issues relevant to animal wellbeing, especially vulnerable species in the wild.
  • Leading: Demonstrating our commitment to animal wellbeing to our guests and the public in everything we do, including our deeply rooted involvement with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.)

Enhancing Animal Wellbeing Here, There and Everywhere

Everything we do, from feeding a sea lion to adjusting the temperature in the lungfish habitat, impacts animal wellbeing. Dive into more detail about how our talented people, robust animal enrichment program, conservation research efforts, Animal Response Team and more play a part.

Two veterinary technicians conducting an exam on a tortoise.

Aquatic Science Labs and Animal Hospital

From preventive penguin exams to analyzing tissue samples through a microscope, the state-of-the-art Aquatic Science Labs and Animal Hospital bring together clinical care, water chemistry and conservation science at the heart of the aquarium dedicated to the improvement of animal wellbeing at Shedd and beyond.

Explore the Labs and Hospital

A rescue sea otter feeding from bottle.

Animal Response Team 

When wildlife is in urgent need, Shedd’s Animal Response Team is ready to help, working with conservation partners around the globe to rescue and care for animals like stranded beluga whales, orphaned sea otter pups and more.

See Rescue Stories

Three Magellanic penguins cross the Oceanarium's wooden walkway.

Animal Enrichment

Sea otters forage for tasty treats. Crabs claw at a feeder ball. Sea lions munch on ice. These scenes — and more — happen at the aquarium every day, part of our extensive animal enrichment program. Dive into the wide-ranging types of enrichment that help keep animals active and engaged. 


Dr. Ken Inoue observing a small mussel while a man looks on during a research trip in El Salvador

Conservation Research

Scientists from the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research conduct research to better understand wild animals and their habitats. Explore our conservation research projects that aim to enhance the lives of animals and safeguard at-risk species around the world.

See our Research

A trainer in a wetsuit leans over as a dolphin lifts its head from the water to touch the side of her head with its mouth.

Animal Experts

Our world-class animal health and care experts are some of the most skilled, experienced and passionate professionals in their field. Read more about how they are enhancing animal wellbeing each and every day.


A seadragon, fin-like fronds on its body helping it blend in to its environment.

Animal Stories

Rescued otters that are destined to be surrogate mothers, 20 years of caring for a green sea turtle, a “mystery fish” turned successful sustainability program: read these blogs and more that dive into details of extraordinary animal care and wellbeing stories at the aquarium and beyond.

Read animal stories