Animals

No Visitors? Watch Penguins Run Free Inside Empty Aquarium

It's the distraction you didn't know you needed during these stressful times - just try not to smile when you see the videos!

As museums, zoos and other cultural institutions are being forced to close due to the spread of the coronavirus, some have been taking to the internet to share what they're doing in the absence of visitors.

For example, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL posted a video on their Twitter page yesterday featuring a few rockhopper penguins who were let out of their habitat to explore what's on the other side of the glass.

Two of the webbed-footed waddlers, Edward and Annie, have been paired up for nesting season, which takes place every spring. The penguins are scheduled to start building their nests next week.

Another penguin named Wellington spent his free time checking out the aquarium's Amazon Rising exhibit. He was probably dreaming of getting his fish dinner, not knowing the fish he was eyeing included a school of red-bellied piranhas – a species that has a reputation of being ferocious predators!

At 30-years old, Welllington is the oldest penguin at the aquarium and has been there since the building opened its doors in 1991.

Despite being closed to the public, the aquarium's staff is dedicated to caring for the animals as they normally would. That includes providing them with enriching activities every day – even if they don't have an audience to watch them.

"Without guests in the building, caretakers are getting creative in how they provide enrichment to animals," the aquarium said in a release, "introducing new experiences, activities, foods and more to keep them active, encourage them to explore, problem-solve and express natural behaviors."

On Tuesday, caretakers at Shedd gave the penguins edible shamrocks in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Whether intentional or not, the videos of the penguins exploring the empty halls of the aquarium gave a much-needed moment of relief to those who have been feeling scared and anxious as the coronavirus continues to spread.

And don't worry, the staff at Shedd plans to keep their fans amused with a lot of new content in the coming weeks as the closures continue!

Wellington the penguin eyes up one of the museum's tastier-looking exhibits. @shedd_aquarium

High-fives (or flippers) to the aquarium's staff for sharing the unique ways they're keeping the animals busy during the closures. We're sure they've made lots of people smile during a very stressful time!

How can you start something good?

You can keep up-to-date on the redhopper penguins and other aquatic creatures by following the Shedd Aquarium on Twitter.


A few other facilities offer live streams to keep animal lovers occupied, including the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and the San Diego Zoo.

The Conversation
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