While Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has been closed to the public due to the coronavirus, the animals’ continued enrichment programs have given the entire world something to admire. The pop-up field trips, which Shedd staff have been filming and posting to social media, allow the animals to roam the empty aquarium and interact with wildlife from elsewhere in the space.
One who quickly stole the hearts of the internet was Wellington, a 32-year-old rockhopper penguin, whose adorable jaunts to exhibits such as Amazon Rising and Caribbean Reef earned him the Twitter hashtag #whereswellingtonwednesday. One of the videos captured Wellington’s visits to the underwater viewing area of the oceanarium habitat, where several beluga whales live. Because beluga whales are native to the Northern Hemisphere and penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, these species likely would have never encountered each other before.
“I think the penguins exploring captured an innocence and curiosity about nature that resonates with people,” says Steve Aibel, senior director of animal behavior and training. “Watching the penguins look at nature offers a unique perspective on the planet, and people care about that.”
A spotlight from our “Heroes of Hope” feature in The Hope Issue
Photography by: Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium