Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium Staff Foster Sea Otter Pup

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Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium recently announced that it had welcomed a five-week old orphaned Southern Sea Otter pup from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

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Shedd_Sea Otter Pup_4Photo Credits: Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez

The female pup arrived at Shedd on October 28th from Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, where she spent the first four weeks of her life being stabilized. The pup has been doing well since her arrival, receiving continual care behind the scenes of Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium, and she currently weighs in at just under 6 pounds and 22.6 inches long. She is the second pup from the threatened Southern Sea Otter population to reside at Shedd. Currently referred to as “Pup 681,” Shedd’s animal care and veterinarian teams are providing the continual, round-the-clock care she needs to thrive.

The small, vulnerable pup was found on September 30th on Coastways Beach in California, and, at that time, was estimated to be only one week old and weighing around 2 pounds. A citizen on an evening walk heard the newborn otter’s cry and quickly notified The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC). TMMC staff contacted Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otters Program, and scientists determined the pup could not be safely retrieved that evening due to the remote location and impending darkness. The following morning, the pup was still in the same location and determined to have been orphaned, and it was estimated she had been separated from her mother for at least 16 hours. Scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Sea Otter Program responded immediately to recover the pup and transport her to Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program has been studying and helping recover the threatened Southern Sea Otter since 1984. The program works with other aquariums, such as Shedd, and wildlife rescue facilities to respond to every sea otter that comes ashore in distress along the California coast. Over the past 25 years, nearly 700 sea otters have come through this program.

Stranded Sea Otter pups require extensive round-the-clock care and there are only a handful of facilities in the United States with the available space, staff and experience to provide the appropriate care. Shedd officials and animal care staff quickly accepted Monterey Bay Aquarium’s call to provide the stranded pup with a permanent home.

To ensure the pup receives everything that she needs, a rotating schedule of six to eight animal care experts provides care and attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During this intensive nurturing period, she will remain behind the scenes in the Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery as she develops certain behaviors, such as grooming, foraging, and feeding, as well as regulating her own body temperature by getting in and out of the water.

As she acclimates to her new surroundings, Pup 681 reaches new milestones every day, including taking formula from a bottle, eating solid foods such as shrimp and clams and even climbing upon white towels when she gets wet to help her groom and regulate her body temperature.

More info and amazing pics, below the fold!

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Rockhopper Penguin Chick Hatches at Shedd Aquarium

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As if to say, "Hello world!" the newest Rockhopper Penguin hatchling waved its tiny wings for the camera at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. Hatched just about a month ago, the chick is thriving and growing quickly, as penguins tend to do, before guests' eyes each day: Gaining weight, eating, and building relationships with its feathery neighbors on exhibit in the Polar Play Zone. The open nesting location there allows guests the rare opportunity to watch and learn about the chick as it develops and grows.

Visitors also have the unique chance to see the mother and father care for the hatchling, sharing parenting responsibilities in equal shifts. The experienced parental Penguin pair is feeding the bird well, according to Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President of animal care and training for Shedd, but there are more key milestones ahead. The chick will learn to eat on its own before acquiring waterproof plumage and diving into its swimming skills for the first time.

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Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Keepers observe and weigh the bird daily. Born at 75 grams, the chick gains approximately 40 grams per day and is now at a healthy weight of 1,019 grams. The gender of the chick has yet to be determined. It is difficult to identify gender in Penguins without genetic testing, as there is no observable difference in male and female anatomy. Watch as the Penguin chick interacts with its trainer below:


Blind California Sea Lion Finds Home at Shedd Aquarium

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Tanner touches his nose to a visual target.

Cruz, a disabled California Sea Lion pup, has found a new home at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA rescued the pup in July 2012, when he was discovered alone on a beach in Santa Cruz. Blinded in both eyes by gunshot wounds, Cruz recovered at the Marine Mammal Center and now joins three other California Sea Lions at Shedd Aquarium, including a five-year old rescue named Tanner.

“Building trusting relationships is the cornerstone to providing the highest quality care for our animals, particularly in Cruz’s case,” says Ken Ramirez, Shedd Aquarium’s executive vice president of animal care and training. “We literally have to be his eyes, which requires a solid bond between animal and trainer. Since he arrived at the aquarium, Cruz has been comfortably relying on our animal care team to guide him, demonstrating incredible progress.” 

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Cruz trains with a rattle. Photo credits: Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium

Cruz’s training is adapted to fit his strengths. Usually, caretakers train the animals to follow and touch a visual target, rewarding them with food. This touch-target training helps the animals to cooperate with caretakers as they do health checkups and clean. Cruz successfully follows an auditory cue, a rattle, instead of a visual target.

 

“Though blind in both eyes, he has a fearless personality and eagerness to learn – two characteristics that indicated we could provide him with a strong quality of life through training,” says Ramirez.

Read more about Cruz and Tanner after the fold.

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It's a Girl! Shedd Aquarium's Bouncing Baby Beluga Makes Public Debut

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Shedd Aquarium, a world-class leader in global marine mammal conservation and research, announced that the youngest member of the aquarium’s Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) family is a girl. For the first time, the public will have the opportunity to see the baby, beginning Friday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m.

Delivered by mother Mauyak (MAH-yak) on Aug. 27, the five-foot-long calf now weighs more than 205 pounds and is steadily gaining 12 to 15 pounds a week. Improving her milk-intake efficiency, the calf latches onto mom an average of 20 minutes per day. As the calf has mastered nursing, 1,200-pound Mauyak’s appetite has grown as well – nearly tripling her normal diet – eating up to 88 pounds of fish a day.

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Baby Beluga Born to Mauyak at Shedd Aquarium

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At approximately 2:00 AM yesterday morning, August 27, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium welcomed a healthy Beluga calf to mother Mauyak. Shedd’s animal care team estimates that the calf is 4½ feet long and weighs about 150 pounds. Both mother and calf appear to be doing well and will remain under 24-hour observation by the animal health staff in Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium.

“We are thrilled to welcome the newest member of the Shedd Aquarium family. A newborn calf must reach several milestones in its first days and months so we remain cautious; however, the calf has demonstrated incredible progress,” said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training at Shedd. “Mauyak is an experienced mom having given birth to two calves in the past, so the labor was quick and went very smoothly.”

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“In less than 24 hours after birth, the calf achieved the first critical milestones that we look for, including taking its first breath, bonding with mom and we’ve seen attempts at nursing,” continued Ramirez, who has nearly four decades of marine mammal expertise, including serving as the past president of the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA). “Shedd’s long history of research and care of these animals tells us that these initial behaviors indicate a strong calf; but we will continue to monitor for signs of development, including steady nursing and growth.”

Animal care is Shedd’s top priority, so mother and calf are currently off exhibit in the Secluded Bay habitat of the Abbott Oceanarium. During the first few critical days following a birth, Shedd’s animal care experts do not physically interact with the whales. Instead, the team observes day and night, allowing time for the mother to nurture her newborn and build a strong bond. As a result, the marine mammal staff has not determined the calf’s gender through a physical examination. 

Beluga Calf Close-up Shedd Aquarium RS1Photo credits: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Watch the baby breath, swim and frolic in its first few hours of life!

Video credits: ©Shedd Aquarium

More photos and information below the fold!

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Adonis Catfish Fry Hatch - A First at the Shedd Aquarium

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Aquarists at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium noticed a large clutch of eggs being guarded by an Adonis catfish, (Acanthicus adonis) on February 27. The fish continued to guard and fan the eggs, which hatched 5 days later. Most of the fry were removed to reserve for grow out, but some were left with the parent, who continued to guard the fry.  

The fry that were left with the father stayed near him for another 2 1/2 weeks. Aquarists estimate that the clutch numbered around 1000 individuals. This is Shedd Aquarium’s first birth with this species. The fry on reserve are growing and doing well. 

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Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez


Marine Mammal Experts Work Round-the-Clock to Save Orphan Baby Beluga

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Four accredited U.S. aquariums have come together in an effort to save a newborn Beluga whale calf which was found stranded in South Naknek, Alaska last week - this is the first time in history that a live calf has been found and rescued in U.S. waters. Marine mammal experts with a combined 125 years of experience from Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld and Georgia Aquarium immediately answered the Alaska SeaLife Center’s call for assistance to provide around-the-clock care for the calf during this rehabilitation period. The male, 112-pound calf is touch-and-go at this point and considered in critical condition – especially due to his immature immune system, and remains under 24-hour observation.

This is a great example of how the aquarium community comes together to work collaboratively in order do what’s best for an animal in need.

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DSCN0923Photo credits 1 and 2 and video: Alaska SeaLife Center. Photo 3: Provided by Shedd Aquarium featuring SeaWorld's Bill Winhall and Shedd Aquarium's Lisa Takaki


Update! Shedd Aquarium's Baby Dolphin Nurses

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You might have seen the first pictures of the new baby Dolphin born at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium on Memorial Day HERE on ZooBorns. Shedd's animal health care teams reported that the calf is nursing regularly, averaging about a minute every hour, which is an appropriate amount for a growing dolphin. Mom Piquet's nutrient-rich milk is loaded with fat that helps the calf gain weight. The calf is also learning to slip-stream, a technique where the calf saves energy by swimming in the wake alongside its mother.

“It’s been very exciting the past few days as our animal care team has seen a number of firsts for the calf,” said Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President of Animal Care and Training. “The calf started demonstrating early signs of important learning behavior, such as mimicry -- after Piquet vocalized, we heard a definitive vocalization from the calf. Although we’re happy to see this progression, we remain extremely cautious as we continue to keep a close eye on both mom and calf’s development during the critical first weeks.”

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Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium

Here's a video of the baby nursing as they swim.

Read more about the baby dolphin after the jump:

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A Memorable Memorial Day For A New Mother Dolphin

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On Memorial Day Monday, at around 10:30pm, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium welcomed a new-born Pacific White-sided Dolphin calf to its Oceanarium. Shortly after the birth, the calf swam to the surface, took its first breath, and began to swim and bond with its mother. The gender of the calf has yet to be determined. Animal care staff estimate the calf to be approximately 3-feet in length and weigh approximately 25-pounds. While mother and calf appear to be doing well, this is a critical time for both, and aquarists will monitor them around the clock for several months.

In 1993, the United Nations banned certain types of fishing nets that had previously caused the unnecessary deaths of thousands of these intelligent sea creatures. Pacific White-sided Dolphins are still killed needlessly by Japanese hunting drives.

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Photo credit: Shedd Aquarium

Piquest and her calf swimming

 

A video of Shedd's Beluga whale family watching Piquet and her calf

 

More photos and information about the birth beneath the fold...

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Happy Birthday Baby Beluga!

Today Shedd Aquarium's baby Beluga calf, Nunavik, turns one year old! A healthy, happy and playful little tyke of 450 lbs., it's hard to believe that Nunavik almost did not survive his first day. Complications with the birth were overcome by Shedd's outstanding veterinary staff. Today Nunavik loves nothing more than mimicing the antics of mom, Puiji, and enrichment time with Shedd aquarists.

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Baby Beluga Nunavik Shedd Aquarium 1Photo credits: Shedd Aquarium

See Nunavik's newborn photos here and check-out Shedd's Facebook page for many more baby beluga pictures and ongoing updates.

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