Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium may be temporarily closed to outside visitors, but there’s still a bit of fun to be had on the premises. This week, some of the facility’s residents took advantage of the empty house to go on a walkabout, and the results couldn’t have been cuter. 

Under the supervision of the aquarium’s animal care staff (who are still onsite, along with veterinarians, 24 hours a day), a handful of penguins were turned loose to explore their surroundings. “Without guests in the building, caretakers are getting creative in how they provide enrichment to animals – introducing new experiences, activities, foods and more to keep them active, encourage them to explore, problem-solve and express natural behaviors,”  a representative for Shedd Aquarium told Lonely Planet in a statement. 

Monte the Magellanic penguin checks in on the aquarium's dolphins
A Magellanic penguin named Monte checks in on the aquarium's dolphins © Shedd Aquarium

A Magellanic penguin named Monte popped by to see the dolphins, while Wellington, a 32-year-old rockhopper penguin, ventured over to the aquarium’s Amazon Rising exhibit. "He seemed most interested by several of the freshwater fish species, including the red-bellied piranhas and the black-barred silver dollars,” the aquarium’s statement continued. “Those same fish seemed equally interested in Wellington, meaning the penguins aren’t the only animals receiving enrichment from these pop-up field trips.” 

Bonded emperor penguins Edward and Annie at the aquarium's information desk
Bonded rockhopper penguins Edward and Annie stopped by the aquarium's information desk © Shedd Aquarium

Meanwhile, Edward and Annie, a bonded pair of rockhoppers, bounced around the Rivers gallery and checked out the Caribbean Reef exhibit, where they took a gander at marine life like bonnethead sharks, queen angelfish, green sea turtles, and mangrove whiptails. The curious 1½-foot-tall birds also stopped by the currently unmanned information desk before returning to the aquarium’s penguin habitat. 

The aquarium’s social-media feeds promise to keep onlookers updated on their residents’ welfare while the property during the closure, but Shedd isn’t the only organization offering a look at the day-to-day life of your favorite animals. An array of wildlife web cams abound, from playful sea otters at California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium to camera-shy wolves at the International Wolf Center in Minnesota

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