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Chicago Aquarium Sets Penguins Free During Pandemic… And You Can Watch

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The spread of coronavirus and the increasing number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide is causing alarm, forcing people to engage in social distancing, causing extreme economic disruption, and prompting countless closures and cancelations. That’s the bad news. The good news? Penguins on the loose!

The Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago opened in May 1930. At 5,000,000 US gallons, it was once the largest indoor aquarium facility on the planet. While that’s no longer the case, it’s still home to 1,500 different species and 32,000 creatures. The Shedd Aquarium’s exhibits include fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects.

The Shedd Aquarium is located on the Museum Campus Chicago, adjacent to the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. Over 2,000,000 people visit the Shedd every year.

Like so many public facilities — including galleries and museums around the country — the Shedd Aquarium is presently closed to the public during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a big change considering it’s usually open seven days a week, aside from some holidays. The aquarium promises, though, that all of those 32,000 creatures are being well taken care of: “Our dedicated caretakers and veterinarians will continue to provide the highest standards of professional care and welfare for our animals on site.” Shedd’s president and CEO, Bridget Coughlin, assured The New York Times that they’ve got four months of food on hand, with more on the way.

For humans, social distancing and pandemic lockdowns might involve a lot of reading and streaming. What does it look like for the Shedd’s 32,000 inhabitants?

Since the halls of the Shedd are empty of visitors, the aquarium decided to let some residents explore the aquarium themselves. Has a penguin ever before encountered Amazonian fish? Only at the Shedd.

Let Us Introduce You To Edward, Annie, Wellington, and…

Aquarium staff let a group of rockhopper penguins — including Wellington and partners Edward and Annie — out of their habitats and are letting them explore the aquarium to meet other creatures. And — this is the best part — they’re sharing the penguins’ adventures with us through social media.

Exploring The World Even In The Age Of COVID-19

The Shedd Aquarium isn’t the only facility that’s trying to share online while they can’t accept visitors. Sticking with the animals theme, the Dallas Zoo is using #BringTheZooToYou on Twitter to, well, bring the zoo to you. On Twitter, we get to watch creatures having all sorts of new and wonderful adventures and encounters. Zoo staff also introduce us to and educate us about the zoo’s residents even though we can’t go to visit them for a while.

While hunkering down and socially distancing yourself, don’t let your world shrink too small. Check out the Shedd Aquarium and the Dallas Zoo on Twitter, and look around online for all the museums, aquariums, galleries, and universities that are sharing their content online and on social media. Share the joy! From a safe distance, of course.  Make and share some memories.

Remember that time the penguins in Chicago went to the Amazon?

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