This aquarium wants you to video-chat with lonely eels who are forgetting humans exist

Sanjana Varghese
Friday 01 May 2020 11:00
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(iStock)

A Japanese aquarium is worried that its eels are forgetting what humans look like.

With lockdown measures in place, animals that are used to seeing and interacting with humans regularly are starting to forget what humans look like, (unfortunately very relatable).

At the Sumida Aquarium in Japan, garden eels have started to hide from the keepers when they pass by, by diving into the sand in their tanks.

It’s caused those at the aquarium to worry. So, the aquarium has organised a ‘face-showing festival’ (like Houseparty, but with eels) where people can video chat the eels from around the world. On Twitter, they asked:

Could you show your face to our garden eels from your home?

Naturally, garden eels are very sensitive and shy. But as they’ve been in captivity, these garden eels have become used to the visitors.

As people haven’t been visiting the enclosures for close to two months now, the eels have started to become more used to an environment without humans around, and the keepers are worried that they could start to think of humans as a threat.

If that happens, then it would be even more difficult for keepers to keep tabs on them and see whether they’re in distress or not.

So the aquarium is setting up 5 tablets with cameras in front of the tanks on the 3-5 May, next week, where people can call in via Facetime and wave at the animals (as the eels themselves are so shy, people have been asked to keep their voices down).

They hope that this will be enough for the eels to stop hiding when they see humans again.

Other animals around the world have had somewhat of a field day with zoos and other businesses being closed as a result of the pandemic – a video circulated of penguins wandering around Chicago Aquarium, free to roam because no one else was there.

But some animals are missing the attention too – The Times reported that pygmy goats at London Zoo are so lonely that zookeepers have been drafted in to pet them.

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