New attraction at Shedd Aquarium — dogs
BY MEENAKSHI DALAL Staff Reporter July 2, 2013 5:00PM
Dory, a 2-year-old shepherd mix, interacts with her trainer at the Shedd Aquarium's new aquatic show "One World," which" features locally rescued dogs that have been training with the Shedd's animal-care team. | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times
Updated: August 4, 2013 6:25AM
The stars of the new aquatic show at the Shedd Aquarium are a little different than the usual headliners — they have wet noses and active tails but not fins or water-soaked torsos.
They’re a mixture of pups! And there’s three of them, all rescued from local animal shelters, featured in the Shedd’s new show, “One World,” opening Thursday.
The dogs are being added to showcase similarities between more exotic mammals and domestic pets, aquarium officials said.
“When we talk about the training of pets, talk about the rescue of pets, and relate it to the training and rescue work that we do here at Shedd, people all of a sudden realize that they themselves can affect change,” said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training. “It helps the public see the work we do with new eyes.”
As Ramirez introduced each pup, they would bound out onto stage in a run with their still slightly oversized paws, sporting a blue bandanna-style name tag around their necks, to greet their trainer and munch on a much-coveted doggie treat.
One dog is featured in each 30-minute show, for about five minutes.
The young pups, between ages 1 and 2, perform a series of the same tricks as their watery-counterparts.
When the trainer in the water lifts his or her hands up into the air, the Beluga whale or dolphin jumps up in response. The trainer on dry land uses the same hand motions to get the dog to do an identical trick.
The mixed breed pups have been at the Shedd for one month so far, said aquarium officials.
“As we continue to work with the dogs, we hope to expand their role in the show,” said Andy Park, artistic director of the show.
There are plans to get two or three more dogs by the end of the year, Ramirez said.
“Our goal was to make sure that by the time we have our full compliment of dogs, we kind of represent size, color and breed in a real way so that anyone could look at one of our dogs and say, ‘That’s kind of like my dog!’” Ramirez said.