Explore cold-blooded creatures at Shedd’s amazing exhibit

A toad that lays eggs on her back. A newt whose ribs can puncture its sides. A frog with claws. Salamanders that bark like dogs. Overgrown earthworms with tiny eyes.

If you go


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Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


They might sound like candidates for Animal Planet’s “Weird, True and Freaky,” but these creatures are actually some of the stars of Shedd Aquarium’s new exhibit, opening later this month.

Amphibians explores the world of the cold-blooded, non-scaly group usually represented by frogs and salamanders. There are actually more than 6,000 types of amphibians, and more than 40 of those species will be part of the exhibit, at Shedd through 2017.

According to Kris Nesbitt, director of exhibits at Shedd, the exhibit is designed for families, with animals that are on kids’ eye level and habitats that groups can cluster around spy the animals.

Visitors can expect to see bright poison dart frogs, a 50-pound Japanese giant salamander, Suriname toads (the egg layers), Iberian newts (sharp ribs), African clawed frogs (self-explanatory), mudpuppies (those noisy salamanders) and Caecilians (the earthwormy guys), among others.

“One of the reasons we chose this exhibit topic is the astounding diversity,” Nesbitt says. “They’re very engaging animals and there’s a very important conservation story.”

She hopes families learn how to help at-risk amphibians through the exhibit’s interactive elements. And the emphasis on local species means that families can make connections to the exhibit when they’re in their own backyards.

After all, those salamanders that bark like dogs? They live right in Lake Michigan.

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