Open 9 am - 6 pm

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

Whether you call Chicago home or live across the world, we welcome you to join us and virtually meet the penguins. From family hangouts, to stay-at-home dates, to surprise gifts, experience the aquatic animal world from your home.

Each up-close visit will be unique, and we are not able to guarantee any specific penguin during an experience. This 45-minute virtual penguin encounter will take place on Zoom so you can enjoy the experience from your own home. All questions can be asked live through the chat function and responded to by our program host.

A tablet computer is set up in the penguin exhibit to do a video chat.
Two trainers wearing masks hold fluffy penguin chicks, offering them fish.

Highlights

  • Meet a Magellanic or rockhopper penguin individual up close, virtually!
  • Go "behind the scenes" in the penguin habitat at Shedd Aquarium.
  • Learn all about penguins' anatomy, nesting, grooming and other behaviors.
  • Ask our experts all your penguin questions in a live chat function.

Make it private

Reserve the entire encounter for a more intimate experience! With this option, you can make it a private encounter for you alone, you and a significant other, your family, or a small social group. Please contact [email protected].

Interested in a virtual experience for your company? Contact [email protected].

Requirements

  • Access to high speed wifi (2 Mbps)
  • Download the Zoom app and create a Zoom account.
    • Make sure your computer or device is compatible and ready for Zoom here.

Accessibility

We believe there should be no boundaries to your Shedd Aquarium experience. If you have an accommodation request related to a disability, please contact us at [email protected] or 312-692-3355.

Virtual Penguin Encounters FAQs

Entry

  • The email address used to purchase the encounter will receive an email with a link to the Zoom Meeting no later than 30-minutes before your experience is scheduled to start. 
  • If you purchased the encounter as a gift for someone and the participant has a different email address than the one used to purchase the encounter, please email us at [email protected] or call 312-692-3355 at least 1 day prior to the day of your encounter.
  • If you do not receive an email 30 minutes before your experience, please email us at [email protected] or call us at 312-692-3355.
  • Please change your Zoom username in advance of the encounter to one of the following options:
    • First name only (Example: Susan)
    • Last name only (Example: Smith)
    • Group name (Example: Penguin Friends)

Questions?

Email us at [email protected] or call 312-692-3355 with questions. We are unable to take reservations by email.

Refund Policy

You may reschedule up to 5-days before your original reservation date. Please call 312-692-3355 (daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or email [email protected].

Attempting to reschedule in less than 5-days will result in forfeiture of the experience and no refund will be made, no exceptions.

If a participant needs to cancel the encounter and is unable to reschedule, no refund will be made.

In the event that Shedd Aquarium needs to reschedule the encounter, the participant will be notified by email 24-hours before the encounter. Every effort will be made to reschedule the experience. If an alternate date and time is not possible, a full refund will be made to the purchaser.

Due to the nature of animals, Shedd Aquarium holds the right to reschedule the program to protect the safety and health of the animals.

A trainer wearing a face mask interacts with two Magellanic penguins.

Two Magellanic penguins standing side by side.

A trainer holds a penguin in their lap.

A trainer sits among penguins wearing a face mask.

What are participants saying about Virtual Penguin Encounters?

"We love the penguins and have been following Shedd on Facebook during the pandemic. We thought the virtual experience would be fun since we live in AZ and can’t visit Chicago. It was really fun and interactive, and we got to see Wellington!! ❤️ It was fun to ask questions too."

"It was given to me as a surprise birthday present…Wasn't sure what to expect. In addition to having so much "live" time with the penguins (and the trainer) I enjoyed the fun and educational quizzes and the entertaining videos."

"Although we have membership with the Shedd, we live 5 hours away. This allowed us to visit briefly with penguins, but we would have enjoyed seeing any of the residents who call the Shedd home. It was enjoyable to see more than one group of penguins and to see their differences."

"Looking for virtual fun educational activities to engage my kids since they are not participating in day camps this summer. We met a penguin, and got to ask lots of questions. Kids loved having our group name mentioned when we asked questions. It was a really great way to make the experience personal."

"The caretaker and host were energetic and thoughtful, answering every question and encouraging the participants along the way. I’m a big fan of Shedd’s social media presence (particularly the penguins) so it was nice to see them up close."

"It was a birthday gift for my son who loves animals…we loved seeing the other penguins waddle over to the keeper while she was talking, as if they wanted to join in on the experience. We loved that there was some spontaneous moments because it was in their habitat."

"The encounter was well organized and used our time wisely. Well done. Thank you and please give an extra fish to Iris."

pricing

$49.95 ($44.95 Members) - the encounter is priced per screen. 

Special Offer: Purchase two links for the price of $69.95 ($64.95 members), to share this experience with a friend or family member from anywhere in the world. If a second link is purchased, it must be used during the same date and time as the first link.

Become a member and enjoy special pricing and other exclusive perks.

group size

Each session is limited to 20 Zoom users total. Your unique link and password will give you access for just one device to login to the experience. We recommend a group size of 4 or less viewing from the same device.

schedule

Virtual Penguin Encounters are back! They are offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. through the end of October. 

requirements

Access to high-speed wifi (2 Mbps)

Download Zoom and create an account

Make sure your computer or device is compatible and ready for Zoom here.

Questions?

Email us or call 312-692-3355 with questions. We are unable to take reservations by email.