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10 posts from July 2013

July 26, 2013

Meet Shelley Halach, “Animal Nurse”

Shelley and Ty 2 Last week you met Shelley Halach during an optical training session with sea lion Ty. As Shedd’s hospital operations manager and a certified veterinary technician, Shelley is at the hub of animal health activities, from the everyday to the extraordinary.

Not only is her job interesting, so is her background. After 18 years with a brokerage firm, she said, “One day I decided that I wanted to do something I was passionate about, and that was animals.”

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July 25, 2013

Shedd TLC for Another Sea Lion Pup


Meet Laguna, Shedd’s newest sea lion—and most recent rescue. The year-old male pup is one of nearly 1,500 starving young sea lions that have stranded on Southern California beaches this year in what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is classifying as an “unusual mortality event.”

Shedd was ready to help these animals in urgent need, sending our animal care experts to assist at a marine mammal rescue center in San Pedro and providing a home to Laguna. The pup was found in January, rehabbed and released, only to wash up, once more emaciated and dehydrated, six weeks later. Now Laguna is getting all he can eat, gaining weight and recovering behind the scenes. Get a sneak peek at Laguna from when a Tribune photographer visited this week.

Karen Furnweger, web editor

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July 22, 2013

A Weighty Anniversary for Nickel


On Nickel’s first day in the 90,000-gallon Caribbean Reef habitat on July 22, 2003, she swam among the fishes, ate a hearty meal, found a cozy place to nap between two elkhorn corals and, during presentations, negotiated the diver’s air line with ease. She took to her new home as if she’d always lived there. Only a few guests noticed Nickel’s unusual swimming posture—head down, rump up.

It was why Nickel had found a home at Shedd.

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July 20, 2013

Happy birthday, Mr. Shedd!


John G. Shedd, the department store magnate who donated $3 million to build the world’s finest aquarium in his adopted city of Chicago, was born in a frame farmhouse in Alstead, New Hampshire, on July 20, 1850. The youngest of eight children, he turned his back on farm work when he was 16 and set his sights on a business career. He gained experience at several dry goods stores in Vermont and New Hampshire; then, in 1872, he headed for Chicago.

Starting as a salesman and stock boy at what would become Marshall Field & Company, he rose through the ranks and used his merchandising genius to build Field’s into the largest department store in the world. Upon Mr. Field’s death in 1906, Shedd became president of the company, which employed 12,000 Chicagoans and did $25 million in retail sales and $50 million in wholesale business every year.

Shedd was part of a cadre of civic-minded business leaders who shaped Chicago into a world-class city at the beginning of the 20th century. And because every world-class city had an aquarium, Shedd chose that as his legacy to the city that had given him so much. He was excited about the project as the plans developed, but he did not live to see his aquarium built. Shedd died on Oct. 22, 1926. His business colleagues, who were on the aquarium’s board of directors, carried out his vision, and construction began in November 1927.

Learn more about John G. Shedd in Shedd Aquarium, the fact- and photo-filled hardcover history of Chicago’s world-famous aquarium, available in Shedd’s gift stores and online.

Karen Furnweger, web editor

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July 18, 2013

Eye Exams Focus of Training

Sea lion optical training_blog2)Trainer Susan Allen cues Ty to haul his mighty bulk out of his pool and across the sparkling white deck of the sea lion reserve area to where Shelley Halach, Shedd’s hospital operations manager and a certified veterinary technician, waits.

Ty looks at the upcoming interaction as mealtime, but it’s also an optical training session to accustom the 440-pound animal to the hand-held instruments that will be used in his future eye exams.

As for Shelley, these 15 minutes are simply the best part of her day, when she gets to work with one of her favorite Shedd animals.

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July 17, 2013

Happy 7th Birthday to Bella!


Beluga whale Bella celebrates her 7th birthday today! She’s still growing, but at 10 feet 4 inches and 900 pounds, she really looks like an adult now. You can tell her apart from the other belugas by the large white spot on her flank.

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July 09, 2013

And Chick Makes Three: A New Rockhopper Penguin


If you ever wanted a window into rockhopper penguin family life, all you have to do is stand front and center at the penguin habitat in the Abbott Oceanarium’s Polar Play Zone to see a parental pair nurturing their nearly-month-old chick.

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July 03, 2013

July Fish of the Month: Albacore Tuna


Your seafood choices can have a big impact on the health of our oceans and lakes – so make sure they’re positive ones! Every month, Shedd’s Right Bite team highlights a sustainable seafood option that’s good for both you and our planet. The Fish of the Month for July is albacore tuna caught by troll or pole-and-line, which is on Shedd’s “best choice list” for sustainability.

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July 02, 2013

Bruce's Story

You get an idea of Bruce’s life before Shedd during a short video in the new aquatic show, “One World: Make a Difference,” which officially debuts on the Fourth of July. The brindle bundle of energy who shares the spotlight with dolphins was adopted by Shedd from Chicago Animal Care and Control through Safe Humane Chicago. Bruce was a “court case dog,” rescued from what was suspected to be an abusive situation. Bite scars suggested that he was being trained as a fighting dog.

That’s all in the past.

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July 01, 2013

Sea Cucumbers: Ultimate Bottom Feeders

Giant Pacific Cucumber_blog
Aquarist Shoshana Levine loves the giant Pacific sea cucumbers she cares for in the Abbott Oceanarium’s tide pool. “They are one of my favorites,” she says. And what’s not to love about an animal that changes its shape, trundles about its habitat on tiny tube-shaped suction cups, keeps things tidy by devouring detritus, ejects its internal organs as a defense mechanism, and eats through both its in and out orifices? All that, and the deep red animals are beautiful, in an otherworldly way.

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