International Asia Covid-19: Millions join Tokyo aquarium’s video chat event to view eels

Covid-19: Millions join Tokyo aquarium’s video chat event to view eels

The staff attached five tablets to the tank to get as close as possible to the eels. Anyone with an iPad or iPhone was given a chance to interact with these ray-finned fish

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Tokyo – With fewer people out and about and fewer tourists in Tokyo due to the Covid-19 pandemic, zoo animals hardly get any visitors, among these are the garden eels at Sumida Aquarium.

Garden eels are naturally shy and wary creatures and tend to quickly hide in their burrows at the first sign of danger. However, the eels seem to have changed as they now allow people to photograph them. Visitors got to enjoy looking at the eels at they poked their head out from the sand and struck the iconic candy-cane pose.

Photo: FB screengrab/Juan Tribu

Photo: FB screengrab/JapanToday

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The aquarium has been closed since early April to cope with the pandemic and contain the spread of the virus within Tokyo. Recently aquarium staff have noticed that the eels seem to have forgotten about the presence of humans.

“I was surprised because I experienced it for the first time,” said aquarium keeper Ryohei Horii in a japantimes.com report. “As we can’t see them, we’ve become unable to monitor their health.” Thus the idea of using technology to connect the visitors with the eels was concocted.

The staff attached five tablets to the tank to get as close as possible to the eels. Anyone with an iPad or iPhone was given a chance to interact with the eels. The event took place from May 3 to 5, between 10 am and 2 pm Tokyo local time. Each viewer was given only five minutes for the FaceTime call to provide as many callers the chance to show their love to these solitary creatures.

Photo: Instagram screengrab/awarenessforcovid19

In a follow-up post, the aquarium thanked everyone for attending the event. They received over a million callers and another two million live viewers from around the world. Initially, the eels were overwhelmed by the waving hands and smiling faces, said Horii. Eventually, they became accustomed to the scene and slowly began to poke their heads back out from their burrows.

The success of the event reminded the aquarium staff “how much the eels are loved,” said Horii, who promised to keep them healthy.

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