Shedd Aquarium veterinarians provide preventative care for 32K animals

ByZach Ben-Amots WLS logo
Friday, June 25, 2021
An Ocean on the Lake: Preventative Care at Shedd Aquarium
An Ocean on the Lake: Preventative Care at Shedd Aquarium

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A small team of veterinarians and medical staff work behind-the-scenes at Shedd Aquarium to ensure that all 32,000 animals in their care remain healthy, mostly through regular medical check-ups. Preventative care looks slightly different for each animal, but exists for the same reason that people see their doctors for a weekly physical. Those animals span from a dart frog that weighs less than a gram to a 2,000-pound beluga.

"I'm super lucky to work at Shedd where even every day at the office is an amazing experience," said Dr. Karisa Tang, associate veterinarian, "Preventative care is the most fun because the animals are feeling well at the time and you're just going to make sure they're feeling okay."

Just look at the daily schedule for a Shedd veterinarian and you'll see what Tang means. Just a few hours before Tang performed a physical on a black tipped reef shark who was new to Shedd, her colleague Dr. Matt O'Connor did an ultrasound on the five Pacific white-sided dolphins.

"One of the things I love about working at an aquarium is I never know what I might get to work with or treat on a particular day," said O'Connor, a staff veterinarian. "You kind of have to know a little bit about everything."

From ultrasound to x-ray, gathering measurements to mending cuts, the doctors at Shedd take a broad approach to animal welfare and use every tool at their disposal.

'Preventative Care' is episode seven of of 'An Ocean On The Lake,' the multi-part behind-the-scenes series from ABC 7 Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. This segment showcases the work of the in-house veterinarians, performing regular check-ins on a shark, a dolphin, and fly river turtles. Find every episode on our homepage for "An Ocean On The Lake," or watch on our ABC 7 Chicago connected TV App.