The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we knew it just a few weeks ago. Millions of people worldwide are now under mandatory or voluntary lockdowns. All public attractions, including museums and aquariums, are shuttered, and the usually crowded streets of popular tourist destinations are desolate. An unanticipated silver lining during these challenging times for humans is that many of the Earth's other inhabitants are finally getting a chance to leave their normal habitats and roam freely.
The first animals to take advantage of human absence were Annie and Edward, two rockhopper penguins who reside at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. A video released on March 15, 2020, showed the couple eagerly waddling around, exploring the aquarium's various exhibits. The footage, which instantly went viral, inspired other institutions to share clips of their four-legged residents frolicking as well.
On March 18, 2020, SUE the Tyrannosaurus-rex (T.Rex) was seen stomping across the marble floors of Chicago's Field Museum to get a closer look at the penguins. When reached for comment, SUE replied, "This is the moment I have been waiting for. The museum is mine to roam. The theropod revolution has begun."
However, rest assured the dinosaur was not the real SUE — the world's best-preserved and most complete T. Rex skeleton — but a costumed version created by the institution's social media team.
The Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio joined the fun trend on March 16, 2020, with a "Home Safari" live-stream series — the first starring its adorable baby hippo, Fiona. "Let us help make your children's hiatus from school fun and educational," zoo officials announced on Facebook. "Join us for a Home Safari Facebook Live each weekday at 3 pm (Eastern Time), where we will highlight one of our amazing animals and include an activity you can do from home."
Meanwhile, the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and the Monterey Aquarium have kept their webcams rolling, allowing fans to enjoy colorful jellyfishes, lovable sleeping koalas, and vibrant coral reef habitats without leaving home.
Animals in the wild are also flourishing as humans stay indoors. The absence of cruise ships is bringing large numbers of dolphins to the Italian port of Cagliari, while flocks of wild turkeys are happily roaming the streets of Oakland, California. In San Felipe, Panama, a group of raccoons have frequently been seen testing their surfing skills at the area's beautiful beaches.
Though the animals indeed appear to be having a good time, the heartwarming videos and images shared on social media, are also bringing much-needed cheer to millions of humans worldwide.
Stay strong and healthy! We are all in this together!
Resources: www.theguardian.com,www.mnn.com, www.newsweek.com, www.usatoday.com