Do you have what it takes to train dolphins and beluga whales? Don your rubber boots and jump into Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, where the Trainer for a Day program will have you spending up close and personal time with not only dolphins, but also many other of the amazing marine creatures that call our city's beloved aquarium home.

Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium

I took my niece, Ashley, to be a Trainer for the Day at the Shedd for her 13th birthday. She wants to be a marine biologist so you can imagine how excited she was when I revealed her gift as we pulled up to the Shedd Aquarium.        


Together, we had the exclusive chance to go behind-the-scenes at this world-class aquarium, home to 32,600 marine animals, from snails to whales. The Abbott Oceanarium’s 3,000,000 gallon tank makes it one of the largest indoor marine mammal facility in the world. 


We spent the day assisting a trainer with daily routines and lending a hand with training and feeding sessions at the Ocenarium. This once-in a lifetime experience is hands-on and personalized. I really appreciated the fact that the trainers took time to discuss college and career options with my niece. We watched and participated as meals were prepared for five dozen animals in the marine kitchen, and we go to step into reserve areas and stand poolside, learning and participating in the day-to-day duties of the trainers. We learned a lot about the research that goes on at the Shedd. Most of all, though, we had a lot of laughs as we interacted with the dolphins,  belugas, sea otters, sea lions, and penguins.

The program is open to adults and children ages 12 and older – children ages 12-15 must be accompanied by a paying adult – with pricing starting at $325 per four hour session. 

In addition to the premier Trainer for a Day program, the Shedd also offers private penguin encounters, beluga encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours. Visit sheddaquarium.org or call 312-939-2438 to reserve your spot.