Recently an unusual guest, a 30-year-old rockhopper penguin named Wellington waddled around on the side of the glass usually reserved for humans at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago Which has been closed to the public for some time now. He was there to visit, beluga whales Kayavak, Mauyak, and baby Annik!
The aquarium tweeted about the encounter saying the belugas were “very curious about this little rockhopper. Belugas are northern hemisphere animals, so they would likely never see a penguin!”
While zoos and aquariums across the country remain closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors are limited to essential staff. To fill the time and maybe even the hearts of the residents trapped inside, caretakers are taking their wards on so-called “field trips” to meet other animals.
The trend makes for cute cross-species content and delights social media users. In an adorable YouTube video posted last month by the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, a sea lion floats at eye level with a tegu, a large species of lizard, on the other side of its glass tank. The tegu flicks its tongue, and the sea lion keeps turning its head to look at the creature.
Even some kittens and puppies from the Atlanta Humane Society are getting in on it. The humane society reports they have been visiting with jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium. Ralphie the red-footed tortoise at the Buffalo Zoo in Buffalo, New York, crept alongside the glass enclosure of an intrigued polar bear, per the zoo’s Tweet. Hector, a Patagonian mara at the Fort Worth Zoo, met up with some otters who “appeared to be curious about their new visitor,” the zoo tweeted.