Shedd Aquarium to close until Jan. 2 in response to pandemic

  • A penguin and beluga whale stare at each other at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago as part of a series of penguin field trips. The Shedd Aquarium will close to in-person visitors at 5 p.m. Nov. 17 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    A penguin and beluga whale stare at each other at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago as part of a series of penguin field trips. The Shedd Aquarium will close to in-person visitors at 5 p.m. Nov. 17 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy of Alicia Atkins/Shedd Aquarium

 
 
Updated 11/17/2020 10:45 PM

While the John G. Shedd Aquarium will voluntarily close at 5 p.m. today for six weeks in response to renewed mitigation efforts to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, aquarium fans can still keep tabs on their favorite penguins whose excursions have delighted viewers for months.

"Although we continue to be a safe place to work and visit due to limited capacity attendance, facial covering mandate and rigorous social distancing protocols, we are taking this action proactively for the positive influence it may have for all," said Dr. Bridget Coughlin, Shedd president and CEO in a prepared statement. "While the aquarium's doors may physically close ... We remain committed to creating meaningful moments of learning, joy, engagement, and respite."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Shedd officials have set Jan. 2 as a possible reopening. Until then, essential staff will continue to work on-site to care for the Shedd's 32,000 animals. Employees able to work remotely will continue to do so. Employees who do not have that option will "be compensated for a similar duration of the initial closure should this second closure last as long," according to the aquarium's prepared statement.

The Shedd's website and social media channels will offer updates and virtual programming including those famous penguin field trips.

Paid digital programs include Zzzs Under the Seas, a virtual slumber party (Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 18-19) that introduces the family to aquatic life.

For elementary school children, the aquarium offers digital explorations into the lives, homes and behaviors of aquatic animals, as well as live chats with members of the animal care team, 50-minute virtual field trips, videos and a live, underwater camera.

See sheddaquarium.org for information.

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