185 posts categorized "Animal health"

April 15, 2014

Our members have voted—and the chick is Ruggles!

For Karen - Rockhopper penguin  chick with Dr  Bill 9 months D75Q7605

Does she look like a Ruggles? That was the overwhelming opinion of Shedd members, who were invited to vote on a name for the female rockhopper penguin chick.

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February 19, 2014

White whales: Singers even more amazing than songs

Dr  Bill and Naya

Throughout my career as an aquatic animal veterinarian, I’ve had the great fortune to work with many beluga whales. One of my early mentors preferred calling them “white whales” because they are the only all-white whale species. These white whales are unique in the whale world for other reasons too. And I believe this is part of why they are so fascinating to get to know.

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February 07, 2014

Love story: Shedd's studbook keepers

Lisa and dolphin

Lise Watson, collection manager of Wild Reef, regularly dives with the sharks—fishes she knows expertly. Erica Hornbrook, collection manager of Amazon Rising, is widely respected for her knowledge of freshwater rays. Lisa Takaki is senior director of marine mammals, a job that involves training not just the belugas and dolphins, but also Shedd’s octopuses, turtles and monkeys.

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Using his Knowledge and Skills: Meet Dr. Bill Van Bonn

Dr. Bill with Ty_blog

He was poolside to welcome belugas Bella and Miki into the world. He was the admitting doctor for a sea lion pup blinded by gunshot. And one of his best memories is of successfully removing a life-threatening tumor from a sea otter.

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December 11, 2013

Rescues feeling right at home

Shedd Aquarium cruz shake

Earlier this month we reported on rescued California sea lion pup Laguna. Maybe you’ve had the special chance to see another rescued sea lion, Cruz, in an aquatic show. Since we last visited with the blind pup, he has become fast friends with Ty, the big sea lion who regularly appears in the show, and Cruz and Ty now share a behind-the-scenes habitat as well as time on exhibit.

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December 02, 2013

From Rescued to Robust—Laguna’s Story

Shedd Aquarium Laguna _ Arrival (2)

Shedd’s newest sea lion is now making appearances on exhibit in the Abbott Oceanarium.

Laguna, a rescued sea lion pup, has made great progress since his arrival at Shedd in late June, says marine mammals director Lisa Takaki. His debut last week in the Grainger Sea Lion Cove was one more step toward his total acclimation here. The 1½-year-old animal is already comfortable in all of the behind-the-scenes sea lion habitats, and he’s mastering what Lisa calls his “ABCs”—the training basics all the marine mammals learn. “He’s doing phenomenally,” she says.

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November 07, 2013

Long-lived and going strong

Grandad vintage

As veterinary science advances at a clip that rivals human medicine, animals in aquariums and zoos are living not just healthier but also longer lives. Australian lungfish Granddad, shown above in 1933, celebrated his 80th anniversary at Shedd earlier this year. Along with being Shedd’s oldest animal, he’s also the oldest fish in any public zoological facility in the world. But is he a senior or is he just middle-aged? Like 60 is the new 40 for a lot of people, several of Shedd’s longevity-busters are in their prime, thanks to excellent care—and, of course, good genes.

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October 29, 2013

A Rio Remembrance

Shedd Aquarium River Otter

Shedd Aquarium lost one of its most enchanting family members today when the animal care and animal health teams made the difficult but humane decision to euthanize 21½-year-old North American river otter Rio. Her health and quality of life had deteriorated recently due to her advanced age. Rio exceeded by nearly a decade the known median life expectancy for river otters—12 years according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums—thanks to excellent care, including advances in geriatric veterinary medicine, and her own zest for everything.

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October 10, 2013

Dinner Dance with a Nautilus

Shedd Aquarium nautilus

Cephalopod Awareness Days (Oct. 8 through 12) give us an opportunity to learn more about this class of invertebrates that ruled the seas millions of years before the first primitive fish shook a tailfin.

I had the privilege of learning about chambered nautiluses firsthand when senior aquarist Laura Hilstrom invited me behind the scenes to help feed her charges in Wild Reef. Nautiluses trace their ancestry back 500 million years to the Cambrian period. They are the last of the externally shelled cephalopods and the most primitive members of their class, which also includes octopuses, squids and cuttlefishes.

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September 25, 2013

Enrichment is the Name of This Game

SOAW Cayucos at wall puzzle_blog

Think of a game that’s a cross between pinball and pool, using a hollow ball stuffed with shrimp and played by a high-energy sea otter, and you’ve got the latest product dreamed up by Northwestern engineering students for Shedd. Sea otters and trainers agree—this new puzzle is a big winner.

The puzzle is a 44 x 32 x 6-inch box of thick plexiglass that fits into the window opening between the sea otter pup pool and the trainers’ area. On a recent afternoon, Cayucos, an almost-2-year-old southern sea otter, is poised to play. Standing upright on her hind feet on the ledge around the pool, her paws on the puzzle’s front panel, she peers through the clear plexiglass for trainer Lana Vanagasem to start the game.

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