Aquarium pleads for people to video call their EELS because lack of contact during lockdown has made them forget humans are not a threat
- Tokyo’s Sumida Aquarium has been closed since March because of coronavirus
- Keepers say the sensitive creatures are hiding in the sand when they pass by
- Staff are setting up iPhones and iPads to allow people to video call the eels
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A Japanese aquarium closed during the coronavirus outbreak is asking people to make video calls to its eels so the sensitive creatures remember that humans exist and do not pose a threat.
The Sumida Aquarium, housed in the landmark Tokyo Skytree tower, has been closed since the start of March and its animals have become used to a largely human-free environment during the two-month calm.
But the aquarium said the ‘unprecedented situation’ was leading the eels to hide in the sand when the keepers pass by.
As a result, keepers are setting up iPads to allow people to show their face to the creatures over FaceTime.
A Japanese aquarium has appealed for people to video-chat with its eels, who are forgetting about humans during the coronavirus lockdown (file photo)
‘Creatures in the aquarium don’t see humans except keepers and they have started forgetting about humans,’ the aquarium said this week.
‘Garden eels in particular disappear into the sand and hide every time the keepers pass by,’ it noted. That is causing difficulties for keepers trying to check on the health of the animals.
‘Let us make an emergency plea,’ the aquarium wrote.
‘Could you show your face to our garden eels from your home?’ it requested, calling the event a ‘face-showing festival’.
Garden eels are very sensitive and wary by nature but 300 of them living in a tank at the aquarium had become used to humans and rarely hid in the sand when approached by visitors.
In a bid to reacquaint the eels with humans, the aquarium is setting up five tablets facing the tank housing the delicate creatures, with eel enthusiasts asked to connect on FaceTime.
The aquarium said the ‘unprecedented situation’ was leading the eels to hide in the sand when the keepers pass by (file photo)
Once the video calls start, people are supposed to show their faces, wave and talk to the eels. But given the tender nature of the animals, callers are asked not to shout.
The ‘face-showing festival’ is scheduled for May 3-5, at the height of Japan’s Golden Week holiday period, when many people usually travel.
This Golden Week, people have been asked to stay at home while the country remains under a state of emergency over the coronavirus.
The aquarium’s plea has attracted plenty of support, under the Japanese hashtag #PleaseRememberHumans.
”When you gaze at the garden eels, the garden eels gaze at you.’ Understood. I’m happy to take part,’ one Twitter user wrote.
‘They need training to learn humans are not a threat!’ another wrote. ‘Interesting.’
And among those eager to take part were many calling on the aquarium to offer access via another app, so that those using PCs and phones with Android operating systems could also take part.
‘I never regretted my Android phone this much before,’ one wrote.
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