Penguins Got To Roam Free While Their Aquarium Was Closed

Many public institutions are closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and Chicago’s world-renowned Shedd Aquarium is no exception. But for some residents of the Shedd, this means the observed can now become observers themselves.

Though the aquarium is closed to the public through March 29, many workers at the Shedd are still showing up to care for the animals. Some of those staffers decided to take advantage of the aquarium’s empty public spaces and let some of the penguins loose to explore.

The Shedd has been posting the adventures of a few of their rockhopper penguins on social media, and the curious, waddling birds are the exact distraction we all need right now. Here are the delightful Edward and Annie, a bonded pair, checking out the rotunda and exploring all kinds of aquatic life from around the world.

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They also appear to have cruised right by a check-in desk for human visitors. We have a feeling they would get free entrance to the Shedd’s exhibits, anyway.

The Instagram post notes that Edward and Annie will begin to build their nests soon, and we will all be able to watch digital coverage of that.

Meanwhile, Wellington the penguin did some exploring, too. He seemed particularly interested in the tropical fish.

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He seems genuinely excited to meet (and eat?) some of those Amazonian fish! Wellington is also a rockhopper penguin, and at 30 years old, he’s one of the oldest in the U.S.

Meanwhile, at Forth Worth Zoo, Hector the Patagonian mara took a stroll and met some otters in another amazing instance of animals meeting animals they normally wouldn’t:

Other aquariums and zoos are pitching in to keep our spirits up with windows into their animals’ lives while they’re closed to the public, too. Many are running live cameras so you can see what the residents are up to, including the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Zoo Atlanta is closed, but you can watch their panda cam. Houston Zoo has a variety of webcams, too, including a giraffe cam and one that follows the industrious leafcutter ants (they are surprisingly fascinating).

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an array of live cameras, but the sea otter cam is can’t-miss viewing. “A little pawsitivity for the day,” the aquarium tweeted.

While these virtual visits are fun for all, they can also be educational moments for kids who are schooling from home right now. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is hosting “home safaris” for kids, and the first was a Facebook visit with the famous baby hippo Fiona as she munches on lettuce and melons with her mama, Bibi. The zookeepers gave a quiz about hippos at the end.