DOWNTOWN — Its doors are closed to the general public, but the Shedd Aquarium is still welcoming new animals to its exhibits.
Four Magellanic penguin chicks have been hatched in the aquarium’s penguin colony, according to a Shedd Aquarium press release. Aquarium staff are monitoring the newcomers, though they are being raised by adult penguins.
A host of other newborns have been welcomed during the closure, including seahorses, bonnethead sharks and cownose stingrays.
The aquarium also announced the pregnancies of two beluga whales and one Pacific white-sided dolphin.
Bella, a 13-year-old beluga whale, and Naya, a 31-year-old beluga whale, are due in early and late summer.
Katrl, a 33-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin, is expecting later this fall. The aquarium has not seen the birth of a dolphin calf since 2016, according to the Shedd.
Peggy Sloan, the aquarium’s chief animal operations officer, said the animals brought “hope” to the Shedd team and gave them a better understanding of aquatic wildlife.
“Every birth is significant and represents Shedd Aquarium’s leadership in aquatic science and our impact on sustaining aquatic biodiversity,” Sloan said, according to the press release.
Sloan said the aquarium staff is looking forward to bringing guests back into the building “to experience the spark of hope” from these new animals, though a date to reopen has not yet been set.
The Shedd closed March 13, just a week before a stay at home order went into effect in Illinois. The aquarium’s essential staff have continued to care for animals and continue their research, but visitors haven’t been allowed.
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