Aquatic Science Labs and Animal Hospital
From preventative penguin exams to peering at samples under 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.
What were once separate spaces across Shedd are now connected, collaborative hubs, allowing our scientists, animal care team and field researchers to expand capacity and better amplify the impacts of their critical work.
A. Watson Armour III Center for Aquatic Animal Health and Welfare
Only a few aquariums have full-scale animal hospitals, and Shedd’s animal healthcare center is one of the largest in the country. It also serves as a teaching hospital that provides critical training for veterinarians and veterinary technicians focusing in zoological medicine.
Whether it’s surgery for a turtle, an eye exam for a sea lion, or a routine blood draw for a shark, the veterinary staff are pioneers in aquatic animal medicine. Shedd’s skilled veterinarians and veterinary technicians are equipped to provide comprehensive preventative care that includes physical exams, imaging and bloodwork, as well as urgent or emergent care needs.
An on-site clinical pathology lab allows animal health staff to quickly and efficiently run tests that provide information to make well-informed clinical choices. Staff in the clinical pathology lab analyze routine blood panels, examine tissue through a microscope and more to assess health in both individuals and populations at the aquarium. In the lab, consulting board-certified pathologists work with Shedd Animal Health staff to perform detailed necropsies when an animal passes away – a critical part of understanding animal health and wellbeing.
Invisible to the naked eye, microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi live alongside the animals at the aquarium and beyond. In the microbiology laboratory, we can culture samples from animal patients to prescribe appropriate treatments.
Water Chemistry Lab
The good health of the biggest beluga whale and the smallest shrimp depends on the good health of their environment. Seven days a week, skilled volunteers and technicians test water samples from every habitat to ensure the 5 million gallons of salt and fresh water at the aquarium help each animal thrive. The team checks temperature, pH, salinity, conductivity, bacteria counts, ammonia, calcium and other parameters and records that data. They can perform up to 300 water-quality tests a day — that’s more than 100,000 a year.
Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research
Shedd’s Conservation Research team, made up of research biologists and conservation scientists, study a broad range of both freshwater and marine topics from sucker fish in the Great Lakes to coral in the Caribbean. Scientists use the labs to analyze selected samples while also leveraging the combined workspaces to collaborate, ultimately helping to inform conservation management strategies for wild species and spaces.
Support for the Aquatic Science Labs and Animal Hospital has been provided, in part, by The Grainger Foundation.