Destinations

WATCH: Adorable penguins explore coronavirus closed aquarium

We don’t think the expression “when the cat’s away, the mice will play” really applies to penguins.

But while Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium may be temporarily closed for the next two weeks to visitors to halt the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the facility’s residents are still out having a bit of fun – and keeping those of us in isolation sane.

This week, a troupe of penguins were turned loose under the supervision of the aquarium’s animal care staff, with Magellanic penguin Monte, and Rockhopper penguins Wellington, Edward and Annie, out and about exploring.

“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,” a Shedd Aquarium spokesperson told Lonely Planet in a statement.

This saw the penguins visit the aquarium’s other residents, including Shedd’s sea otters, red-bellied piranhas, black-barred silver dollars, bonnethead sharks, queen angelfish, green sea turtles, and mangrove whiptails, among others.

To the delight of the internet, the aquarium has been posting videos of the penguins to Twitter, which you can view in all their cute and cuddly glory, below:

On top of providing updates on the adventures of its penguins, Shedd Aquarium also revealed a few details about them.

As it turns out, Rockhopper Wellington is no spring chicken (and not just because he’s a penguin).

He’s 32-years-old – more than twice the life expectancy of a wild Rockhopper penguin – and can still enjoy life at the aquarium thanks to “laser therapy” and “cataract surgeries”.

Upon learning this in a post from Shedd Aquarium to Twitter, one user declared: “Please protect this precious old man I love him.”

“Not to be dramatic but I would die for him,” another said.

“Quarantine us forever if it means Sir Wellington gets to do whatever he wants!” one user added.

If they weren’t already cute enough, with St Patrick’s Day celebrated on Tuesday, near and far, the marine birds were even draped in green with bow ties and top hats, in true Irish spirit.

Featured image: Two Magellanic penguins (iStock.com/Dgwildlife)

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