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What To Expect at Shedd Aquarium's Dolphin Presentation
October 16, 2023 By CityPASS
A visit to Shedd Aquarium isn’t complete without experiencing its remarkable dolphin spotlight. Watching the aquarium’s talented, charismatic dolphins demonstrate their natural behaviors is an unforgettable way to spend an hour. This guide will walk you through everything you can expect when attending a Shedd Aquarium dolphin presentation.
Meet the Marine Mammals in the Dolphin Pod
Shedd Aquarium is home to a pod of six Pacific white-sided dolphins who delight crowds multiple times a day with their intelligence and acrobatic antics. By getting to know these incredible marine mammals ahead of time, you can make the dolphin show at Shedd Aquarium even more meaningful.
The current Shedd dolphin pod includes the following animals:
- Makoa is a young adult male and is one of pod’s highest jumpers.
- Kri, a female, is the oldest dolphin in the pod.
- Katrl, at 280 pounds, is the largest dolphin in the pod.
- Munchkin is small but can do a number of fascinating tricks, such as vertical jumps.
- Harmony is the youngest of all the dolphins. Since she was born in 2020, she's been learning to socialize with the rest of her pod.
Shedd's dolphin pod lives together just like the wild population would, operating within their own little social microcosm. Their hierarchies and relationships add behind-the-scenes drama to the dolphins’ captivating behaviors you’ll be able to observe.
Learn About the Pacific White-Sided Dolphins
Shedd's pod performs one of the best aquarium dolphin presentations around. These awesome animals are Pacific white-sided dolphins, a highly intelligent species found throughout the northern Pacific Ocean. Adults reach six to eight feet long and weigh 300 to 450 pounds. They have sleek, gray bodies with a distinctive white and gray color pattern on their sides.
Pacific white-sided dolphins use echolocation to navigate and hunt for fish, squid, and crustaceans. They are fast, agile swimmers who often ride waves and wake from boats for fun.
These highly active dolphins can reach speeds up to 18 miles per hour and gracefully leap 16 feet in the air. Their two-parted tail provides powerful propulsion through the water. Pacific white-sided dolphins are frequently seen bow-riding and surfing down breaking waves in the ocean.
These sociable mammals live in large, fluid pods of 100 to 1,000 members in the wild. They form close social bonds and cooperative groups to hunt, navigate, and protect their young together.
At Shedd, the dolphins receive excellent care from animal experts and marine mammal professionals who train them using positive reinforcement and follow proper animal handling procedures. Animal training sessions encourage physical activity, mental stimulation, and above all, choice and control for the dolphins based on expert animal health considerations.
Discover Their Natural Habitats
Shedd Aquarium is committed to educating visitors about aquatic animals’ natural environments. With three million gallons of ocean water, the aquarium's Abbott Oceanarium provides just the right habitat for Pacific white-sided dolphins. It replicates the rich, cold-water ecosystem these dolphins occupy.
In the Polar Play Zone, children can also observe them gracefully swimming alongside fishes and invertebrates also native to the Northern Pacific. From this area's viewing space, your kids can get a glimpse into how dolphins live and move in the ocean.
See Acrobatic Species in Action
During a Shedd Aquarium visit, you can watch the dolphins’ natural behaviors, intimacy with professional animal trainers, and acrobatic feats.
Shedd’s dolphin presentation showcases the animals' intelligence and athleticism. You’ll see them:
- Leap high into the air
- Propel themselves onto a submerged ledge using their powerful tails
- Swim in unison and cross over one another
- Catch and play with items tossed by trainers
- Showcase their speed and agility by surfing waves or riding the current around the pool
- Perform their own unique splashing maneuvers
The presentation also demonstrates the strong bond between dolphins and trainers through breathtaking moments.
Planning Your Visit to Shedd Aquarium
A day at Shedd Aquarium offers a wealth of one-of-a-kind experiences. Here are some tips to make the most of your visit to the aquarium:
- Arrive early, especially on peak days. This ensures you have ample time to explore all the exhibits before the next timed entry group enters.
- Download the free Shedd Aquarium app to help plan your day. The app has schedules, maps, and exhibit information to optimize your visit. It can also let you know if there are special aquarium events to enjoy.
- Allow at least four to five hours to fully experience Shedd’s permanent galleries, like the Abbott Oceanarium and the Caribbean Reef, where you'll find a circular tank housing fish, eels, rays, and more. You may also want to consider leaving time to view special exhibits.
- Research when dolphin presentations occur so you can coordinate your visit around showtimes. Multiple presentations run daily.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you'll be doing a lot of walking through Shedd's large indoor exhibits.
Enjoy a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience With CityPASS® Tickets
The best way to visit Chicago and have an unforgettable dolphin encounter at Shedd Aquarium is with a Chicago CityPASS® ticket. With it you’ll get prepaid admission to Shedd, plus four more of the top things to do in Chicago.
A CityPASS® ticket allows you to save compared to paying for each attraction separately. In addition to Shedd Aquarium's awesome dolphin events, the pass includes admission to Skydeck Chicago, and your choice of three of the following:
- The Field Museum
- Adler Planetarium
- Art Institute of Chicago
- 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour
- Centennial Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier
CityPASS® tickets are valid for nine days, giving you the flexibility to experience Chicago at your own pace. Don’t miss the chance to experience Shedd Aquarium’s remarkable dolphins. Grab your Chicago CityPASS® ticket today and start planning your Windy City adventure.
To get the most out of your stay in Chicago, we recommend finding lodging near Chicago's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:
Header Image ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez