Coronavirus and animals: Shuttered Chicago aquarium takes penguins on a field trip

After Chicago's Shedd Aquarium was forced to close amid the coronavirus pandemic, staff decided to let a few waddling residents out of their enclosures for a field trip.

The aquarium shared videos on Twitter of three penguins checking out exhibits from the other side of the glass.

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

In one video, a rockhopper penguin named Wellington visits the aquarium's Amazon Rising exhibit, which features creatures from the Amazon River basin, the largest river system and rainforest on Earth. At 30, Wellington is the oldest penguin at the aquarium and has lived there since it opened in 1991.

In another video, a pair of bonded rockhopper penguins named Edward and Annie waddle past a tank full of sharks and rays. Eventually, they wander all the way toward the information desk.

Some zoos which are closed due to coronavirus concerns have stayed connected with the public by livestreaming shows with popular animals like Fiona the hippo at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. The El Paso Zoo's "zoo cams" also let viewers sneak a peek at the daily life of meerkats, sea lions, giraffes, orangutans and more.

Meanwhile, other animals like Hector, a Patagonian mara at the Fort Worth Zoo, have also stepped out for some fresh air while the zoo is closed. Hector got to meet three excited otters during his trek Benji, Hudson and Makita.

Shedd, which will remain closed until March 29, invited the public to follow along digitally as Edward and Annie begin to build their nests next week.

"And yes, Wellington will return!" the aquarium tweeted.

USA TODAY

See also: The 10 best native wildlife experiences you can have in Australia

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