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Travel and Leisure

Award-winning PH Wild Reef Exhibit in Chicago consistent tourist-drawer

CHICAGO — The Philippine Consulate General in Chicago and the Philippine Department of Tourism Office in New York visited the award-winning Wild Reef Exhibit at Shedd Aquarium on February 11, 2020.

Led by Consul General Gina A. Jamoralin, the contingent was composed of Consul Ryan Gener, Tourism Attache Francisco Lardizabal, Senior Tourism Operations Officer Luz Navarro, and Trade and Tourism Assistant Joey Erandio.

The John J. Shedd Aquarium is the world’s oldest and largest indoor marine mammal exhibit in the world, with two million annual visitors. The Philippine Wild Reef exhibit, which formally opened on 15 April 2003, is an award-winning permanent exhibit that continues to be a top draw with excellent reviews from visitors.

The 400,000-gallon Wild Reef exhibit is one of the largest and most diverse shark exhibits in North America. Guests begin their journey at the surging shores of a recreated Apo Island, a volcanic rock, in Negros Oriental at the south end of the Philippines, and then surface to the mangroves and beaches of this Visayan coast. To create an environment where the fish will feel comfortable with their surroundings, Shedd Aquarium imported from the Philippines, among others, 17.5 tons of sand and a fisherman’s house. Shedd brought to Chicago the coral reefs of the Philippines, an epicenter of marine diversity with 450 species of coral and 2,500 species of fish and home to more than 40 species of sharks.

After the tour, the delegation met with Shedd Aquarium executives led by Senior Vice President for Conservation Partnerships and Programs Cheryl Mell and the above-mentioned officers. They recalled the history and background of the Wild Reef Exhibit, including the strong partnership of Shedd with the Consulate, the Department of Tourism and the Filipino community in Chicago. They also explored avenues to further strengthen collaboration to modernize and promote the exhibit. The Department of Tourism and the Consulate committed to support the exhibit’s modernization and efforts to enhance engagement with the community.