Under the sea. Darling, it’s better, down where it’s wetter — take it from me!
The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is probably the nicest aquarium in the Midwest, maybe the entire country.
It's huge, and it's named after businessman and philanthropist John G. Shedd.
This is Jen and Steven, and they got to play trainer for a day with a super cool behind-the-scenes look at the aquarium, including getting up close and personal with otters and penguins.
Ok, so they had to get up early AF to do this, but you know what? Totally worth it.
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Watch the otter cuteness of their whole experience here!
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Trainer Michael Pratt was kind enough to lead them around the aquarium, starting with the marine mammal kitchen where the staff prepare the animals’ meals.
It's important for them to find sustainable seafood to feed the animals. They go through roughly 800 pounds of restaurant-quality food every single day. Dayuum!
Did you know it costs the same to feed an adult sea otter as it does to feed an adult beluga whale? Yep.
That's a 40- to 60-pound animal versus a 2,000-pound animal.
After sorting through some clam for the sea otters, it was time to meet the penguins, who immediately began vocalizing to let themselves be known in front of the newbies.
Michael said they actually used penguin vocalization to create some of the dinosaur noises in Jurassic Park!
Jen and Steven also got to meet Cookie, a very important penguin at the Shedd Aquarium who is turning 30 years old this year, and just recently had cataract surgery.
Michael has worked with most of the animals at the facility for over seven years, so it's safe to say they're good buds.
After hanging with the penguins, it was time to play with the otters. Steven put some food in a toy ball and let the youngest otter at Shedd Aquarium work for her food in the most adorable way.
Michael says this technique helps keep the otters' minds active. Environmental enrichment, or switching up their environment, keeps the animals stimulated.
Did you know sea otters have the densest fur of any sea animal? Unlike most marine mammals they don’t have a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm.
That's also why they eat so much, too. Their metabolism is crazy fast in order to keep a warm body temperature. Must be nice, otters!
After their aquarium tour (which Jen described as the coolest fucking thing they could have done), they realized just how much the staff loves the animals that they work with.
The Shedd Aquarium is also working to increase their conservation efforts by trying to use their research to foster better rescue and rehabilitation of sick or orphaned animals.
Did you know you could also be a trainer for a day? You, too, can throw on a pair of black rubber boots and get to follow a trainer around for four hours.
This is also a way of promoting conservation, so win-win!