The Shedd Aquarium is known as a home to beluga whales, dolphins and numerous other aquatic animals. But they are welcoming some furry new residents this summer. The Shedd is introducing three new rescue dogs into its brand new aquatic show as a way of celebrating the human connection with animals and demonstrating the "Shedd way" of animal care.
Making its public debut on the Fourth of July holiday, the multi-species aquatic show focuses on the interconnectivity of the living world and the impact we have on our shared environments. Narrated videos that spotlight Shedd’s rescue and rehabilitation work alternate between animal interactions with trainers, including sessions with the aquarium’s newest four-legged friends. Throughout, guests will understand the significance of the individual roles we play in conservation and care for animals in the wild and at home.
Working with local pet rescue partners – Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) through Safe Humane Chicago and The Anti-Cruelty Society – Shedd adopted three medium-sized canine breeds between the ages of one and 2-years-old: Bruce, a pit bull terrier mix, Coral, an Airedale mix, and Dory, a shepherd mix.
“We’ve always called it ‘The Shedd Way,’” says Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training.“Positive reinforcement builds bonds of trust between Shedd’s trainers and animals that are central to our animals’ health and wellbeing. Now, guests can be inspired by seeing that the same training methods work whether you’re interacting with a one-ton beluga whale or a ten-pound terrier.”
Since February this year, the dogs have been working with a team of Shedd trainers. Beginning this summer, the rescued pups will take center stage to showcase the aquarium’s extensive rescue and rehabilitation work as well as the four cornerstones of good animal care: healthcare, nutrition, the animal’s environment and training.
“We’re always looking for innovative ways to translate conservation and education into meaningful memories through animals,” said Andy Park, artistic director for Shedd’s aquatic show. “For many of our guests, the appreciation for caring for the living world begins at home with the pets we love. We’re thrilled to spotlight to Shedd’s exceptional animal care and training team, while showing guests how we – from dolphins to dogs – are all connected in this living world.”
The new aquatic show features Shedd’s dogs, dolphins, belugas, and other animal favorites from the Abbott Oceanarium. In the future, guests will also learn more about the playful dogs during meet-and-greets in front of the aquarium.
According to Ramirez, it’s suspected that male pit bull terrier Bruce was being trained as a fighting dog after he was found by CACC with bite scars on his body. Today, the one-year-old is a good-natured, attentive pup with floppy ears who wags his tail in high-energy circles. Female Airedale mix Coral was likely surrendered to CACC for behavioral challenges; described by Ramirez as a reactive dog, she has demonstrated significant progress since she began working with Shedd trainers. The oldest of the group, two-year-old Dory sports pointy ears with a red, wolf-like coat, and was adopted by Shedd from an Anti-Cruelty Society shelter in Indiana.
“When people see our dolphins and dogs demonstrating the same behaviors, using the same training cues, they may be surprised, and we certainly hope they’ll be inspired,” Ramirez continued. “Like the trainers at Shedd, each person can make a positive difference for animals in our world.”
For more information about the aquatic show, show times and stories about Shedd’s rescues, please visitwww.sheddaquarium.org/oneworld.
The “One World” aquatic show is included in the Total Experience Pass – the best one-day value – with access to all permanent exhibits, Jellies special exhibit, Stingray Touch and 4-D Experience. Total Experience Passes are available in advance online for $37.95 per adult; $28.95 per child (ages 3-11). Timed tickets for the aquatic show can be purchased as an add-on to the Shedd Pass for $5 per person. Shedd Passes are $28.95 per adult; $19.95 per child (ages 3-11). Additional information about discounts for residents, educators and others is available online at http://www.sheddaquarium.org/discounts.html.