Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago had some dapper dining room visitors recently. Three penguins from The Shedd Aquarium came to tour the restaurant and bring attention to the need for a reduction of plastic use.
The aquarium shared a video and some photos of their Magellanic penguins Tilly, Olivia and Dolores waddling through an empty Shaw’s looking quizzically around their surroundings. Despite their lack of restaurant experience, Shedd pointed out that the penguin ladies are not strangers to restaurant-quality seafood as they dine on it daily at the aquarium.
As part of the #LetsSheddPlastic initiative, the aquarium is partnering with restaurants like Shaw’s to work on reducing their single-use plastic items like straws and coffee stir sticks. The Shedd Aquarium also collaborates with area eateries on using sustainable seafood in their kitchens.
“Plastic pollution affects all life, from human to aquatic, including Magellanic penguins,” Shedd posted with its video. “Shedd is one of just a handful of institutions participating in the Species Survival Plan for these near-threatened birds. Field trips like this bring attention to conserving our blue planet while highlighting key species.”
The penguin appearance was also a part of Chicago’s Restaurant Week, where participating restaurants offer prix-fixe meals at a lower than normal cost, along with other discounts. The event, normally designed to draw diners to restaurants during the post-Valentine’s Day slump, is being held a few months late this year and includes takeout and delivery dining options.
“The field trip to Shaw’s provided great exercise for Shedd’s penguin ambassadors, adding variety to their day and engaging their senses as they explored a new space,” The Shedd Aquarium said in a press release about the event.
While, alas, Shedd’s penguins didn’t wait on diners like those in “Mary Poppins,” they made adorable environmental ambassadors.
Facebook commenters on the Shedd video got a kick out of the penguins’ visit too.
“Penguins in a restaurant! What a time to be alive!” said Facebook user Sara Beth Solovey.
Several people remarked on how the penguins made sure to “dress up” for their dining experience. Others said the three animals were having better social lives than themselves during the pandemic. (The Shedd Aquarium’s penguins have had field trips during the pandemic to The Field Museum, Soldier Field, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and around their own aquarium digs, just outside of their habitat.)
Anyone can nominate a restaurant to join The Shedd’s partner restaurant initiatives to help save the planet and its oceans, one piece of plastic at a time.