Smithsonian’s Nat’l Zoo Sends Shedd Aquarium 2 Sea Lions

The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago announced on Thursday, September 1, A.D. 2022 that two California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) had arrived from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C.  For now, they remain out of public view in the sea lion colony at the Grainger Sea Lion Cove as they become “more familiar with their new home and animal care team.”

The two sea lions are a father and son.  The father is Charger, whose father was Tanner, one of the Shedd Aquarium’s sea lions rescued at the Bonneville Dam.  [Tanner sired Charger whilst off-site at a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (A.Z.A.) as part of a species survival plan (S.S.P.).  A.Z.A.-accredited zoos and aquariums that participate in a S.S.P. cooperate to manage the population of the species in question collectively held by those American zoos and aquariums.]  The son is a three-month-old pup sired by Charger at the National Zoo.   

Consequently, the Shedd Aquarium’s sea lion colony includes three generations of one family: Tanner, Charger, and the pup.  The patriarch, Tanner, is both the oldest and largest sea lion at the Shedd Aquarium.  At thirty pounds, the pup weighs 200 pounds less than his father Charger, as Charger weighs about 230 pounds, and Charger weighs roughly one-third what his father weighs, as Tanner weighs about 630 pounds. 

“These two newest additions kept us busy from the moment we arrived,” stated Katie Majerowski, Animal Care Specialist at the Shedd Aquarium, who accompanied the sea lions on their journey to Chicago.  “We’ve been monitoring them closely, day and night, to ensure a smooth transition to their new home.  But ultimately, there is no more rewarding experience than seeing our sea lion colony grow and participating in their new adventure here at Shedd.”

“Over the next few weeks and months, the animals will continue to get acquainted with new spaces, caretakers and potentially meet the other three sea lions at Shedd,” the Shedd Aquarium stated in a press release.  It is interesting that Shedd Aquarium employees are referring to the institution as “Shedd” instead of “the Shedd Aquarium” the way C.I.A. agents call it “C.I.A.” instead of “the C.I.A.”]  “Charger… shows early signs of confidence even as he explores his new environment and caretakers.  The pup… has already learned to swim, engage with enrichment like toys and vocalize.”

“We have the capacity, social structure and decades of experience caring for sea lions to provide an ideal home for Charger and the new pup,” stated Peggy Sloan, Chief Animal Operations Officer at the Shedd Aquarium.  “Shedd is unique because we have committed to an all-male population of sea lions – animals that can sometimes be challenging to care for long-term in zoos and aquariums because of their size.  We got word that these sea lions were in need of a new home, and we are joyfully opening our doors and hearts to Charger and his pup.”

The pup does not yet have a name.  He is the youngest sea lion in the Shedd Aquarium’s history.  He came to the Shedd Aquarium at this early age with his father because his mother rejected him, which resulted in him needing to be hand-reared by people for the best chance at survival.  The Shedd Aquarium’s animal care team will continue to “provide-hands-on care for the pup to ensure he reaches developmental milestones,” the Shedd Aquarium stated.   

They will have to monitor his growth while his diet consists of the equivalent of baby formula.  He will be weaned from this formula when he is ready to begin eating fish.  He will socialize with members of the Shedd Aquarium animal care team and his fellow sea lions.  Other milestones include “early training and enrichment sessions.”

The animal care specialists will draw on experience they gained as they cared for rescued sea lions both at the Shedd Aquarium and in the wild.  The new experience they gain with the pup will also help the Shedd Aquarium’s Animal Response Team assist “partners with sea lion rescue and release efforts along the Pacific coast,” the Shedd Aquarium stated.

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Figure 1 Credit: ®Roshan Patel, Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo Caption: This is the California sea lion pup when he was about one week old and still at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. before he came to the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Figure 2 Credit: ®Roshan Patel, Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo Caption: This is the California sea lion pup when he was about one week old and still at the National Zoo before he came to the Shedd Aquarium. Having been rejected by his mother, the pup is dependent on being bottled-fed by human caregivers.

Figure 3 Credit: ®Roshan Patel, Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo Caption: This is the California sea lion pup when he was about one week old and still at the National Zoo before he came to the Shedd Aquarium. The staff at the Shedd Aquarium will wean him off baby formula when he is ready to begin eating fish.

Figure 4 Credit: ®Roshan Patel, Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo Caption: This is the California sea lion pup when he was about one week old and still at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. before he came to the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Figure 5 Credit: ®Roshan Patel, Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo Caption: This is the California sea lion pup when he was about one week old and still at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. before he came to the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Figure 6 Credit: ®Roshan Patel, Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo Caption: This is the California sea lion pup when he was about one week old and still at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. before he came to the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Figure 7 Credit: Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Shedd Aquarium’s sea lion caretakers and veterinarian who accompanied the newest arrivals on their trip to Chicago bring the male pup into the aquarium.

Figure 8 Credit: Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Katie Majerowski, Animal Care Specialist at the Shedd Aquarium, welcomes the new male pup to his new space behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove.

Figure 9 Credit: Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The yet-to-be-named 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 10 Credit: Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 11 Credit: Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 12 Credit: Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 13 Credit: Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 14 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 15 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 16 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The 3-month-old male California sea lion pup begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 17 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Dr. Karisa Tang, Staff Veterinarian at Shedd Aquarium, checks on the new sea lion pup behind-the-scenes on his first day at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 18 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Dr. Karisa Tang, Staff Veterinarian at the Shedd Aquarium, and Dr. Bill Van Bonn, Vice President of Animal Health, check on the new sea lion pup behind-the-scenes on his first day at the Shedd Aquarium.

Figure 19 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Charger, a 3-year-old male California sea lion, begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at Shedd Aquarium.  Charger is the father is the father of the 3-month-old pup and son of Tanner, the Shedd Aquarium’s eldest and biggest sea lion.

Figure 20 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Charger, a 3-year-old male California sea lion, begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at Shedd Aquarium. 

Figure 21 Brenna Hernandez © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Charger, a 3-year-old male California sea lion, begins getting acclimated to the new space and caretakers behind-the-scenes in Grainger Sea Lion Cove at Shedd Aquarium. 

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As with The Field Museum, the source of the money to establish the Shedd Aquarium came from Marshall Field & Company, which at the time was a wholesaler as well as a department store.  The founder and eponym was John Graves Shedd (1850-1926), one of Marshall Field I’s protégés.  He was President of Marshall Field & Company from 1906 to 1923 and served as the first Chairman of the Board of Marshall Field & Company from 1923 to 1926.[1]

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The 90,000-gallon Caribbean Reef is home to 500 tropical Caribbean reef sea creatures.  These include sharks, a moray eel, and a green sea turtle.  The 750,000-gallon Wild Reef is housed in a $45,000,000 subterranean structure.  It simulates a Philippine coral reef and is home to 540 species of sea creatures.  The 3,000,000-gallon Abbott Oceanarium simulates the environment of the Pacific Northwest.  It is home to beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea otters from California and Alaska, and sea lions from California. 

      The Shedd Aquarium is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located on the Museum Campus in the Chicago Park District’s Burnham Park, across from Grant Park in downtownChicago.  The address is 1200 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Illinois 60605.  The Website is https://www.sheddaquarium.org/.  The phone number is (312) 939-2438.

ENDNOTES


[1] Shedd was also Chairman of the Board of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway, Director of the Illinois Central Railroad, and one of the forty-nine Governing Members and Trustee of the Chicago Zoological Society.

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