Animal Response Team
Sea otter pups washed ashore in California. A newborn beluga whale stranded on an Alaska beach. Abandoned penguin chicks in South Africa.
When wildlife are in urgent need, Shedd’s Animal Response Team is ready to help, working with conservation partners around the globe to rescue and rehabilitate animals.
A history of help
Shedd’s rescue efforts go back more than 50 years, starting with the rescue of a young freshwater dolphin. We’ve helped head start and release dozens of baby sea turtles and welcomed unreleasable older turtles to the Caribbean Reef habitat. Our reputation as experts in raising endangered sea otter pups was earned after the Exxon Valdez oil spill; since 1989, we’ve provided a permanent home to 11 young sea otters that would not have been able to survive in the wild.
In Madagascar, our veterinary and animal care responders helped with the international rescue of 10,000 endangered radiated tortoises taken from wildlife traffickers. And at home at Shedd, we're ready when illegally imported fishes and corals seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service need shelter and care.
Helping a baby beluga beat the odds
When a stranded infant beluga whale was brought to our partners at the Alaska SeaLife Center, Shedd was among the aquariums from around the country that responded to the call for assistance.
Thanks to long-term around-the-clock attention, the calf became the first rescued newborn beluga to be successfully rehabilitated. He continues to thrive at an AZA-accredited aquarium, where in-house scientists can glean insights into him and his endangered population.
Endangered penguin chicks face one less threat
Each year, endangered African penguins abandon their chicks in the nest before the young birds can fend for themselves. And each year, hundreds of the chicks are taken in by the South African seabird conservation organization SANCCOB, which nurses them back to health, fattens them up with wholesome food and releases them to maintain and, hopefully, grow the species’ population.
Since 2014, Shedd has sent rotating teams of its penguin experts to South Africa during the penguin breeding season to assist with this monumental rescue and rehabilitation effort.