Much of an otter’s behavior is not instinctual but is learned by watching mom. So, since mom isn’t around, the care team at Shedd is filling that role, providing food, helping the otters learn to groom their fur and more.
These are busy days for otters, which are naturally highly active to help them withstand the cold temperatures in their native waters. But the pups need their sleep as well, so the aquarium decided to share a few recent photos from naptime.
The aquarium is inviting fans to stay tuned for more milestone updates on the otters--including details on a media open house, potential naming opportunities, and info on when the public will be able to see them on exhibit at Shedd.
Shedd Aquarium, a leader in animal care, recently welcomed two Magellanic Penguin chicks.
The chicks hatched following the annual breeding season that began with nesting. In late March, the Magellanic and Rockhopper Penguins began creating nests and preparing for the breeding season after animal care experts shifted the light cycle and scattered nesting materials in the aquarium’s Polar Play Zone exhibit.
Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Both Magellanic Penguin eggs were produced by the same breeding pair: Chile and JR.
“Chick 420” hatched on May 17, and bonding with the biological parents began immediately. Chick 420 will remain in the nest with both adults who will rear the young bird.
“Chick 421” hatched a few days later on May 20. Attending chicks is a full-time job with duties shared by both parents. By having the chicks raised by two different pairs, each chick gets individualized attention and the parenting birds all get additional experience as they learn how to best care for chicks. Therefore, the second egg was given to foster parents, Howard and Georgia. According to keepers, the pair has been taking turns feeding and incubating the chick like it was their own.
“Having a chick successfully hatch from its egg is just the first of many milestones that we look for in these first few weeks, but our team is cautiously optimistic,” said Lana Gonzalez, manager of Penguins and Sea Otters. “We’ll continue to monitor both chicks closely over the next few weeks, looking for consistent weight gain and to see how the parents are doing with sharing their responsibilities.”
Shedd Aquarium welcomed a new Magellanic Penguin chick on May 12, following the breeding season in late March. This is the first Penguin chick born at the aquarium since Diego in 2015.
The newest arrival will stay in the nest with the parents, who share brooding and feeding responsibilities equally, until around 75 to 90 days-of-age. After one year, a genetic test will determine whether the chick is a boy or a girl. Around that time, the chick will also be given a name.
The chick weighed 95 grams at birth. At two to three months, the chick is expected to reach comparable height and weight of an adult penguin, while preparing to molt and acquire their adult feathers. Animal care staff will weigh the bird daily to ensure continuous growth as a sign of successful rearing. According to Aquarium staff, the weight of the chick on day two was 103 grams, which is consistent with the gain anticipated at this early stage.
Photo Credits: Shedd Aquarium
Penguin trainers at Shedd will continue to monitor the chick for activity, vocalizations, hydration levels and more. Technology plays a big role in this process, as sensors can track temperature and humidity in the habitat, and cameras allow for off-site screening which allows for fewer disturbances to the natural process of raising chicks.
Before any hatchings, animal care staff at Shedd Aquarium use candling, the process of holding a strong light to an egg, to observe inside the egg to determine if it is fertile, track growth, check for steady movements and more. Trainers start the process at seven days after an egg is laid and continuously monitor progress week-to-week.
The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to South America and breeds in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil.
Its nearest relatives are the African, Humboldt Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin.
The Magellanic Penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520. The species is currently listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.
A recognized leader in animal care and conservation, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium recently announced that it has welcomed a 10-week-old orphaned Southern Sea Otter pup (Enhydra lutris nereis) to the aquarium as part of a collaborative partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium – a leader in ocean conservation, and science and conservation of the threatened marine mammal species.
Now weighing about 11 pounds, the female pup arrived at Shedd on January 27 from Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, where she was estimated to be 4 weeks old. The pup is receiving care behind the scenes in Shedd’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery from a team of dedicated animal trainers and veterinarians. She is the third pup from the endangered Southern Sea Otter population to reside at Shedd. Known as “Pup 719” (which refers to the number of otters taken into Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program since its inception in 1984) she is currently achieving critical milestones in her growth.
Pup 719’s stranding is a vivid example of how our changing environment is impacting animal habitats on the west coast. Unusually high ocean temperatures associated with El Niño caused heavy storms in January, which may have been a factor in separating Pup 719 from her mother. Additionally, elevated ocean temperatures can be associated with a reduction in kelp cover, shrinking the habitat available to Sea Otters. The latest National Weather Service status for the current El Niño system ranks it among the three strongest episodes dating back to 1950. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted 2015 as the Earth’s warmest year on record.
“We might be facing record numbers of Southern Sea Otter strandings that may be associated with storms caused by El Niño, our role as stewards and caretakers for these animals is as critical as ever,” said Karl Mayer, animal care coordinator for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program.
“There are limited options for stranded otters: reuniting with mother in the wild, rearing for release by a surrogate Sea Otter mother like the one of a kind program at Monterey Bay Aquarium or being placed in an AZA accredited zoo or aquarium. If those options are not available, pups may unfortunately have to be humanely euthanized,” said Tim Binder, executive vice president of animal care for Shedd. “Organizations like Monterey Bay Aquarium are doing critical work to try and reunite these species and when there are no other options – Shedd stands at the ready to assist in urgent animal care needs like providing a permanent home for Pup 719.”
As she acclimates to her new surroundings at Shedd, Pup 719 continues to achieve many important milestones which include eating solid foods such as shrimp and clams, foraging for food, grooming on her own and interacting with Shedd’s animal care team.
What do you get a Dolphin calf for the holidays? A name!
After a full week of voting, Cetacean fans everywhere have spoken. The name for the newest member of Shedd Aquarium’s marine mammal family, a male Pacific White-Sided dolphin calf born on June 1, 2015, was revealed on December 16 during a live broadcast from the aquarium’s Secluded Bay habitat.
Nearly 3,500 votes were cast during the naming contest, and Makoa (Ma-ko-ah)—meaning ‘fearless’ in Hawaiian—was the clear winner over another exotic favorite, Kolohe (Ko-low-hey), meaning ‘rascal’.
Photo Credits: Brenna Hernandez / Video Credit: Sam Cejtin
The six-month-old Makoa, who has nearly doubled in size since his birth and weighs a healthy 108 pounds, continues to achieve important milestones, such as bonding with mom Piquet, increasing in size, eating some whole fish, and interacting with trainers and fellow dolphins. As one of the most adventurous calves to have ever been born at Shedd, he has certainly lived up to his new name.
“Naming the Dolphin calf is Shedd’s way of welcoming him into the family, while also raising awareness about this fascinating open-water species that is extremely difficult to study in the wild,” said Tim Binder, executive vice president of animal care.
“With only four accredited North-American institutions caring for less than 20 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, our understanding of this taxon is very limited, making any predictions regarding the resiliency of the species or disturbances in their native habitat very difficult. Observing the animals in human care increases our understanding of their biology, behavior and sensitivity to environmental change, allowing us to inform protection management strategies for those in the wild, as well as to provide better care for the animals in accredited zoos and aquariums.”
For more than 20 years, Shedd Aquarium has participated in collaborative efforts that help the scientific community better understand the hearing, acoustics, social behavior, reproductive physiology and immune system of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, providing a window into this breathtaking species.
According to Binder, “Makoa will be an ambassador for Dolphins everywhere, helping the aquarium raise awareness about the importance of research and conservation, as well as furthering Shedd’s mission of connecting people to the living world, and inspiring them to make a difference.”
Meet Peach-- a 10-month-old Dachshund/Terrier mix that was born in the southern United States. Found tied to a dumpster and bearing the marks of neglect (as evidenced by the scar running the length of her back), she was placed in a nearby high-kill shelter.
Through the help of volunteers, Peach eventually found her way to The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, Illinois. Once in the Chicago area, more good fortune was provided for the friendly dog. Officials at The Anti-Cruelty Society thought she was an excellent candidate for a special rescue and rehabilitation program at Shedd Aquarium.
Photo Credits: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez ; Video footage: Sam CejtinPeach is currently being integrated into Shedd Aquarium’s dog program. The focus for now is getting her acclimated to her new home and building a positive and trusting relationship with her trainers. As with all other animals, she will make progress in her training as her comfort level allows. Shedd’s animal care staff is confident that she will make a smooth transition to her new home. She is young and her socialization will begin immediately – both with trainers and other dogs.
Since her arrival at Shedd Aquarium, Peach has been nothing but very sweet. She is already open to interacting with people, and she is very playful with the other dogs at the aquarium. According to Shedd tradition, Peach was named after a character in the popular animated feature, Finding Nemo.
Peach currently weighs a healthy 20 pounds, and she has a short black coat with a large white spot on her chest.
She is the seventh dog to be adopted by Shedd Aquarium from a Chicago-area shelter, since 2013, and one of four dogs currently at the aquarium; two other animals have since been adopted into loving homes. These animals connect guests to living world, highlighting the “Shedd Way” of training through positive reinforcement and demonstrating how individuals can build strong relationships with the animals in their lives.
Peach may eventually be included in the aquarium’s “One World” show, which focuses on the interconnectivity of the living world and the impact we have on our shared environments.
Just as Shedd rescues endangered Sea Otters, Rock Iguanas, Corals and other threatened species, guests can make a difference for animals by adopting pets from shelters. Each year, 3 million unwanted dogs just like Peach (and Shedd’s other rescue dogs: Marlin, Dory and Kobe) are euthanized; nearly 90 percent of those deaths could be avoided with the right training. Shedd Aquarium’s dogs are examples of the potentially great companions that are just waiting for the right owners at animal shelters around the country.
Shedd Aquarium welcomed a Rockhopper Penguin Chick on June 9, 2015. The chick hatched to parents Edward and Annie, following penguin-breeding season in March. The yet-to-be-named penguin weighed 57 grams at birth and came in at 200 grams at a recent weigh-in; full growth is expected after about two to three months. Until the aquarium decides on a name, the tiny bird is being referred to as “Chick #23”.
Photo Credit: Brenna Hernandez /Shedd Aquarium ; Video Credit: Sam Cejtin /Shedd Aquarium
Chick #23 has been attempting to preen its soft, down-like plumage, which is one milestone Shedd’s animal care team looks for to assess the growth of the bird. While there are no observable sex differences in Rockhopper Penguins, a genetic test after one year of age will determine whether the chick is a boy or a girl.
Guests can try to spot Chick #23 in Shedd’s Polar Play Zone, where it’s currently in its nest with its parents. It will be another month or so before the chick begins to wander on its own.
Shedd Aquarium houses two types of penguins in the Polar Play Zone exhibit: Rockhoppers (Eudyptes chrysocome) and Magellanics (Spheniscus magellanicus). The Rockhopper is the smaller, yet more eccentric penguin of the two breeds.
Rockhopper Penguins are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Since 1991, Shedd has been part of a successful penguin breeding program and has contributed to a variety of global rescue efforts. Chick #23 is one of more than 30 Rockhopper Penguins currently at Shedd.
On Friday, December 12, Shedd Aquarium, along with ABC’s Good Morning America, officially announced the name of its female rescued Southern Sea Otter pup, formerly known as ‘Pup 681’. Over 10,000 votes were tallied from the “Name the Sea Otter Pup” voting contest, which took place between Dec. 2 and Dec. 11, and the winning name is…Luna!
The announcement was made on GMA and also during a special members-only event at Shedd Aquarium. During the event, Shedd’s animal care team announced the winning name and introduced the Sea Otter pup to the exhibit for the first time. The general public will have the opportunity to meet ‘Luna’ in person in Spring 2015 at the Regenstein Sea Otter habitat in the Abbott Oceanarium at Shedd.
Currently weighing in at 11 pounds, the pup is growing quickly and successfully reaching new milestones everyday including diving, foraging for food, grooming on her own and most recently the animal care team introduced four types of seafood to her diet.
The marine mammal team at Shedd provided name choices, which reflected geographic native habitats of Southern Sea Otters, a threatened species. The name Luna is derived from Half Moon Bay, the area close to where the pup was rescued. Shedd members had an exclusive opportunity to vote on their favorite name, making Luna the official Shedd member’s choice.
Shedd Aquarium’s rescued Southern Sea Otter pup, which came to the aquarium as part of a collaborative partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium, is currently known as ‘Pup 681’. She has been swimming past significant milestones over the last few weeks and is growing quickly. Already double in size and weighing in at a little over 10 pounds, Pup 681 is now ready for a name!
Shedd is partnering up with ABC’s morning television show, “GoodMorningAmerica”,to name the female Sea Otter pup, through the “Name the Sea Otter Pup” voting contest.
“The entire organization celebrates Pup 681 as a meaningful way to educate our guests and have a better understanding of sea otters, which is critical to conserve and protect this species,” said Tim Binder, Vice President of Animal Collections for Shedd. “Over the past few weeks, she has won the hearts of many in Chicago and across the nation. We’re excited to team up with a national organization, to connect millions of people with this species inspiring conservation for wildlife and the environment through the engaging process of selecting a name for our Sea Otter with everyone.”
“Good Morning America” invites viewers to get involved with the contest by casting their votes online, via a poll, found on the right side of their page, at GoodMorningAmerica.com on Yahoo. Participants can submit votes as often as they like until Thursday, Dec.11 at 3 p.m. EST. The final name will be revealed on Friday, Dec. 12.
The public will choose from five names, selected by Shedd’s marine mammal staff. Shedd has a history of naming animals that are rescued affiliated with the locations of which they were found. Names include:
Cali - To honor the California otter
Ellie - Año Nuevo State Park is well known for its elephant seals, also Elkhorn Slough - an area that is right up the coast from Monterey that is home to many Sea Otters
On Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 12 p.m. CT, Shedd Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium will host a Google Hangout On Air session with the public to share the latest progress and information on rescued Sea Otter Pup 681.
Moderated by legendary journalist and aquarium supporter, Bill Kurtis, the live, online event will feature a behind-the-scenes look at the growing Sea Otter pup and first-hand accounts from Shedd and Monterey Bay experts involved in her rescue and continual, round-the-clock care.
Registration for the Google Hangout On Air session can be found at the following: