A Chicago aquarium is letting its penguins wander freely and meet the other animals after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic

Shedd AquariumShedd Aquarium is allowing its penguins to meet the other animals now that it’s been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Shedd Aquarium in Chicago shut its doors last week in an effort to protect the community during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • But staff are still on hand to take care of the animals and provide them with plenty of fun and activities.
  • This week they have been allowing the penguins to tour the empty aquarium and meet the other animals.
  • Videos of the penguins looking in wonder at the fish and dolphins have since gone viral.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When the people are away, the penguins will play.

Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, decided to close its doors last week due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the animals have to self-quarantine.

Instead, staff are using the empty aquarium as an opportunity to provide enrichment to the animals in new ways – including penguin tours.

Penguins coronavirusShedd AquariumMonte the penguin with the Pacific white-sided dolphins at Shedd Aquarium.

The penguins have been free to wander the aquarium over the last few days, checking out everything from dolphins to stingrays.

“While Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium may be closed to the public, animal care staff and veterinarians are onsite 24/7,” a spokesperson told Insider.

“Without guests in the building, caretakers are getting creative in how they provide enrichment to animals – introducing new experiences, activities, foods, and more to keep them active, encourage them to explore, problem-solve, and express natural behaviours.”

Penguins coronavirusShedd AquariumWellington, a rockhopper penguin, explores the aquarium’s ‘Amazon Rising’ section.

Wellington, a rockhopper penguin, got to explore the aquarium’s “Amazon Rising” section on Sunday and was clearly fascinated by the fish.

“He seemed most interested by several of the freshwater fish species, including the red-bellied piranhas and the black-barred silver dollars,” the spokesperson said. “Those same fish seemed equally interested in Wellington, meaning the penguins aren’t the only animals receiving enrichment from these pop-up field trips.”

Penguins coronavirusShedd AquariumWellington was especially fascinated by the fish.

Edward and Annie, a bonded pair of rockhopper penguins who are together for the nesting season, went on a tour of the aquarium’s rotunda.

Penguins coronavirusShedd AquariumEdward and Annie explore the empty aquarium.

They even checked out the information desk.

Penguins coronavirusShedd AquariumEdward and Annie check out the information desk.

Edward and Annie will begin building their nests next week, and Shedd Aquarium will be offering digital nesting coverage so that animal lovers can follow along.

Shedd’s zookeepers told Insider that, even during this time of uncertainty, it is important to keep things as normal as possible for the animals.

“Enrichment is a regular part of the animals’ day, so we are keeping the day for the animals the same,” they said. “A field trip in the aquarium is just enrichment we don’t do as frequently.”

Penguins coronavirusShedd AquariumShedd’s zookeepers are still on hand to take care of the animals, and are making sure they get plenty of enrichment.

“Being closed doesn’t affect the animals, they still get to see the animal care staff they would normally see on a daily basis.”

Shedd posted videos of its penguins exploring the aquarium on social media, where they quickly went viral.

And Shedd is continuing to share updates from the aquarium every day, keeping followers in the loop with a St. Patrick’s Day penguin party and a birthday celebration for a giant turtle named Yam.

For those who want to help the aquarium during these difficult times, there is even the option to symbolically adopt an animal at Shedd – including penguins.

Shedd officially shut its doors on March 13 in “the best interest of overall wellness for our community and for each other.”

“While we are disappointed that we won’t be able to welcome you to the aquarium during this time, we are closing out of an abundance of caution and to do our part in the social distancing efforts to help stop the further spread of novel coronavirus,”the statement read.

Penguins coronavirusShedd AquariumMonte the penguin looks in wonder at a passing dolphin.

“Our dedicated caretakers and veterinarians will continue to provide the highest standards of professional care and welfare for our animals on site.”

The aquarium is scheduled to open again on March 29.

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