Penguin Encounter

This 60-minute experience begins when you swap your street shoes for rubber boots (in case the bird gets curious about your feet) and settle into the encounter room. A volunteer provides an introduction to Shedd’s penguin program, including a short, fun video starring our rockhoppers and Magellanics. Now you’re ready to meet one of the Magellanic penguins!

As the bird sits on the trainer’s lap, walks around, plays with a toy, or gulps fish, you’ll learn about its personal history, penguin anatomy, nesting season and our penguin conservation work in South Africa. You’ll gently stroke the bird’s back and wing as the trainer answers questions. You’ll also receive a “decoder” card so you can identify your new avian friend on your next visit to Polar Play Zone. 

Includes admission:
The Penguin Encounter ticket also includes express entry to the aquarium, admission to all exhibits and a ticket to the next available aquatic presentation.


$94.95 for adults, $79.95 for children; $49.95 for members

Includes Penguin Encounter, express entry, admission to all exhibits and a ticket to the next available aquatic presentation.


Penguin Encounters are offered all year long on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. From the last week in June through August 28, they are offered daily.

Group Size

Each session is limited to 10 people.


Guests with special needs and/or special requests (wheelchair) must contact our office at 312-692-3355 before making a reservation. For the health and safety of the animals at Shedd, each situation will be reviewed by the Marine Mammals team for approval.

Children must be at least 6 years old, and children 6 to 11 must be accompanied by a paying guardian.

Please bring a pair of socks; we will provide you with rubber boots for the encounter.

Observers may not be in the penguin encounter space. Encounters are conducted behind the scenes but not in the penguin habitat.

Photography and video recording are not allowed during this experience. Participating guests should meet at the Northern Trust Suite on the day of their visit.

Gift Certificates

An extraordinary gift idea! To purchase a gift certificate, please call us at 312-692-2723. Certain restrictions apply.


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

Refund Policy

Rescheduling must occur as of close of business 10 days prior to the date of the experience. Refunds will not be issued for any changes made less than 10 days prior. For additional details, see our refund and cancellation policy.

Accessibility Needs

If you have any accessibility needs, please contact us in advance of your reservation.

Phone: 312-692-3355

Find next available penguin encounter

How many people are coming?

Members - please log in when prompted during checout to unlock your member-exclusive price! Discounted tickets are limited by member level.

Ages 6 and older. Children 6 to 11 must be accompanied by a paying guardian age 18 or older.