Question: What has five million gallons of water and 20,000 fish? Answer: The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The John Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world. Because of this, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. The John G Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium is on the grounds of what is known as the Museum Campus in Chicago. It shares these grounds with the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. Every year, the John G. Shedd Aquarium gets about two million visitors. It is the home of approximately 8,000 animals of 650 species. These include fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians and insects. If it swims, flies, or crawls, there's a chance you will find it at the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
With the abundance of animals at the John G. Shedd Aquarium, one may wonder where the funds for this museum were obtained. It was actually the generous gift of retail magnate John G. Shedd, who was a protege of Marshall Field. Although construction of the John G. Shedd Aquarium was completed on December 19, 1929, the first exhibits did not open to the public until 1930. Since it was one of the first inland aquariums in the world, the staff at the John G. Shedd Aquarium had to make use of a custom-made railroad car, known as the Nautilus, for the transport of fish and seawater.
John Shedd Aquarium
In 1933, the John G. Shedd Aquarium gained exposure with an international crowd, due to its proximity to the Chicago World's Fair, otherwise known as the Century of Progress. At the time, visitors were mesmerized by the new addition to the aquarium, which was a Queensland Lungfish known as "Granddad." Believe it or not, Grandpa is still alive and kicking, or perhaps swimming, at the John G. Shedd Aquarium. This senior citizen bears the distinction of being the oldest fish in a public aquarium.
John G Shedd Aquarium Image: cincooldesigns (flickr)
As if that were not enough of a drawing point, in 1971, the John Shedd Aquarium added a huge 90,000-gallon tank that reproduced a Caribbean coral reef. In that same year, the aquarium acquired its first research vessel, which was a 75-foot boat that was built to explore the Caribbean. A diving crew, who were trained to collect unique specimens, manned the ship.
In 1991, the John G. Shedd Aquarium opened its "Oceanarium. This new addition to the aquarium features a variety of marine mammals, which include Pacific white-sided dolphins and belugas. The charismatic Beluga whale Kayavak was born in the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium on August 3, 1999. The John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium is also home to a number of adorable sea otters, many of which were rescued from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.
The latest permanent exhibit at the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium is "Wild Reef." The exciting exhibit recreates a Philippine coral reef and features a 400,000-gallon shark tank with twelve-foot high curved windows. This allows visitors to get a "divers-eye view" of the activity in the tank.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium, along with the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium provide an educational yet enjoyable experience in Chicago.