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Chicago's Shedd Aquarium turns to Walgreens for animal medicine needs


CHICAGO — A testament to Walgreens' robust veterinarian medicines capacity, Shedd Aquarium on Tuesday teamed up with Walgreens to create a first-of-its-kind partnership that provides on-demand access to preventive care medicine and supplements for its 32,000 animal residents.


The A.Watson Armour III Center for Aquatic Health and Welfare at Shedd is one of the largest full-scale animal hospitals in the country, caring for the more than 1,500 species — each with significantly different physiological profiles and responses to medications and treatments. In an effort to continue to provide the best care for its animals while reducing pharmaceutical waste in line with the aquarium’s sustainability initiatives, the aquarium turned to Walgreens.


“We’re focused on providing the best care for our animals at Shedd, so expanding our partnership with Walgreens was a natural fit for us when looking for ways to continue to provide reliable, preventive care while furthering our mission of sustainability,” said Bill Van Bonn, VP animal health for Shedd Aquarium. “We found that because our animals are healthy, stock medication often went unused and eventually expired, leading to unnecessary waste. When we presented this challenge to Walgreens, they stepped up to work with us to find a solution that would meet both the health and safety needs of our animals and our commitment to reducing environmental impact.”


Since the launch of the program pilot late last summer, Shedd has already seen a 25% reduction in inventory and an estimated 50% decrease in staff time to manage pharmacy inventory.


A critical part of animal care includes preventive examinations for all of Shedd’s animals — similar to the way humans receive regular physical assessments, dental checkups and eye and prenatal exams. For every animal group, from corals to sea jellies and beluga whales to stingrays, the regular checkups help monitor for changes in health and behavior and help Shedd’s veterinarians identify and address issues before they occur. When necessary, medication or supplements are provided as part of individual routine care — many of which are the same that humans use and safe for animals.


“Whether drops for a baby sea otter’s gassy stomach or preventive care probiotics for an aging iguana, our staff can now easily fill a prescription and have it hand-delivered by the Walgreens pharmacy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital,” Van Bonn said. “Shedd offers around-the-clock care to its animals and has teams in place should an emergency occur. The few medications that we do still keep ‘on-the-shelf’ are there to ensure we can respond immediately if needed.  So whether we are caring for an animal at the aquarium — or our rescue and rehabilitation team needs access to a critical medication hundreds of miles away — this new ability to have what we need, right when we need it is tremendous.”

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