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Shedd Aquarium evacuated following power outage

 Shedd Aquarium employees inform public ththey are closed this afternodue power outage plan be open tomorrow. Thursday July 5

Shedd Aquarium employees inform the public that they are closed this afternoon due to a power outage and plan to be open tomorrow. Thursday, July 5, 2012 Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 6, 2012 3:02AM

The Shedd Aquarium was evacuated as a safety precaution Thursday afternoon following a power outage and officials will meet later to decide if it will re-open on Friday.

The power went out about 1 p.m., according to Shedd spokeswoman Andrea Smalec, who said the outage, which affected the aquarium’s original galleries, was initially believed to be related to the heat.

Power was restored about 30 minutes later.

“We are working with ComEd to figure out what happened,” she said. “We know it was an internal power issue, but are trying to determine whether it was heat-related.”

The temperature at Northerly Island was 101 at 1 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

“As a safety precaution all visitors were evacuated,” Smalec said, adding she received no reports of injuries.

It was unknown how many people were in the aquarium at the time, she said, but it averages about 5,500 visitors per day during summer months.

The Shedd’s full-time inhabitants appear safe, however as Smalec said life-support systems were “running full speed” during the outage, powered by back-up generators.

“Although power remained active for the comfort and safety of the animals, guests were evacuated as a preliminary safety precaution,” she said in a statement.

Commonwealth Edison spokeswoman Krissy Posey confirmed the outage, and said the utility is investigating to determine the cause.

The aquarium will not re-open Thursday, Smalec said, and a decision on whether to open on Friday will be made Thursday evening.

All guests who were evacuated received “come back” vouchers allowing them to return at any time, she said.

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