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Penguins go on a "field trip to meet other animals" in Chicago aquarium closed over coronavirus fears

Penguins wander around empty Chicago aquarium

Penguins at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium went on a small "field trip" to explore the building after it closed its doors to visitors amid coronavirus fears. The aquarium shared videos of a group of rockhopper penguins taking a walk inside the facility and visiting the other animals. 

One video shows Wellington the penguin particularly excited to see the fish in the Amazon exhibit — and those fish "also seemed interested in their unusual visitor," the aquarium said in the tweet.

The aquarium said caregivers constantly try to provide new creative experiences for the animals to explore and express their natural behaviors. "While this may be a strange time for us, these days feel normal for animals at Shedd," they tweeted. 

On Tuesday morning, penguins named Edward and Annie explored Shedd's rotunda, the aquarium said. They are a bonded pair of rockhopper penguins, which means they are together for nesting season and will begin to build their nests next week. 

"Springtime is nesting season for penguins at Shedd, and this year is no different!" the aquarium wrote.

The videos, which were viewed hundreds of thousands of times as of Tuesday morning, cheered up viewers at a time when fear and anxiety are prevalent. 

"Thank you for making me smile," one user wrote. "Please keep doing this. This is the content we need right now," another added. Another wrote: "We need our smiles wherever we can get them...please give Wellington some extra fish for bringing happiness to many people!"

In addition to the aquarium and other large facilities shutting down, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced Sunday afternoon that all restaurants and bars in Illinois will close effective at the end of the business day on Monday, and continuing through March 30, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Shedd Aquarium shared a video of a group of rockhopper penguins taking a walk inside the building and visiting the other animals.  DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/GETTY IMAGES
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