Lockdown has seen wildlife across the globe creeping into the open while humans stay at home, but as “nature is healing” in some places (NB: it’s not), some animals aren’t loving the lockdown quite so much. An aquarium in Japan has made a plea for visitors unable to attend the aquarium to instead video call their eels, as a lack of people has caused them to become shy making their care more complex.
Inside the Tokyo Skytree tower, the tallest tower in the world, sits the Sumida Aquarium, home to hundreds of spotted garden eels. In the wild, garden eels are highly suspicious and hide in the sand at the first sign of trouble. The museum’s eels, however, had become accustomed to the admirers around their tanks. Without feeling the need to hide, the eels made it easy for the aquarium workers caring for them to check that they were content and healthy.
As lockdown measures have forced the aquarium to close its doors since early March, however, the empty building has resulted in their eels become more and more nervous of humans. According to the aquarium workers, the eels are now becoming shy again and keep disappearing into the sand whenever they pass by. This shyness complicates their care, as the staff aren’t able to check on the health of the animals as easily as they could before.
In an attempt to refamiliarize the eels with their tank-side admirers, the aquarium is launching a three-day “emergency event” on May 3 to remind their resident eels that humans exist. The “Chinanago face show festival”, as the aquarium has termed it, invites visitors to call the aquarium through Facetime on an iPad or iPhone (details on how to here) where they’ll be presented via five tablets surround the tank to have a video chat (not too loudly) with the attention-starved eels.
It’s hoped the event will be a chance to engage in socialization for both the eels and the callers, as it happens in the middle of the Golden Week holiday, when Japan usually sees a boom in tourism. While there are currently no strict lockdown measures in place in Japan, the authorities have requested that citizens stay home as much as possible to prevent further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.