Quarantine Fun For Everyone!

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By Aliah Clark, Reporter

With the social distancing order in place, people have been having a hard time finding things to amuse themselves with. The most recent form of entertainment comes from a series of short videos circling the internet, staring animals…meeting other animals. Zoos like the Cincinnati Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, the Maryland Zoo, and the Dallas Zoo have been allowing supervised roams around the facility to visit other animals in their habitats. Animals ranging from tiny goats to elephants have shown quite an interest in the other mammals they meet, providing a source of amusement for both the viewers and the animals themselves. Zoos are not the only ones participating in this entertaining event- aquariums such as the Shedd and Mystic Aquariums have been allowing penguins to roam about their facilities. Not only have we been able to see the penguins interacting with the other ocean life within the facility, we have also been provided with a video of a hoard of penguins hopping down the stairs on their journey about the building.

“It honestly just made my laugh, it was on TikTok and it was super cute the way this little penguin was waddling around.”

Ryan Eells (12)

When asked more about the background behind these adorable videos, Mystic Aquarium’s response was a bit of a surprise. After being asked who’s idea it was to take the animals out to go visit each other, the Senior Director of Public Relations Ms. Dale Wolbrink said, “This type of ‘exploration,’ if you will, is actually something that we train the animals for as part of regular enrichment. While it normally does not mean roaming on the main gallery area, this behavior is important for a number of reasons, including shifting between habitats, outreach and education programs and, again, enrichment. Formally termed ‘behavioral husbandry,’ enrichment is the component of daily animal care that focuses on how animals interact with their physical and social environment.”

Mystic Aquarium regularly takes out Cork, a harbor seal, Rex, a black and white Argentinian Tegu, and several of their leopard geckos, skinks and tortoises for behavioral husbandry around their facilities.

“Quite frankly, these are the most mobile [animals] and have the right temperament and training [for roaming],” said Wolbrink.

Dallas Zoo had a similar response. When asked the same question, they replied, “We take some of our animals for walks around the Zoo very regularly — check out the Out of the Barn video series on our YouTube channel. These visits are very enriching for all the animals involved because they get to see and experience new things in their day.”

“I thought it was really cute.”

Maddie Donati (10)

We all need a little pick-me-up during these hard times, and these videos are just what we need! Not only do the animals get to stretch their legs- paws, fins, or flippers- but it also provides the public with a two-minute escape from reality. In an interview with Mystic Aquarium, the question of who benefits more from these interactions, Wolbrink said, “Most likely the public. In these trying times, they need a bright spot. Animals bring joy!”

Dallas Zoo’s Milky Eagle Owl chick, Hodari, visits young lioness, Bahatti.
Image courtesy of Dallas Zoo Zoologist, Brenda S.