Tokyo Aquarium Asks Public to FaceTime Shy Eels Under Lockdown

"It seems like the spotted garden eels are getting used to a non-human environment and have forgotten about people"

The spotted garden eel, Hereroconger hassi, seen in Bali, Indian Ocean, Indonesia.
Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images

A Japanese aquarium is calling on members of the public to play a virtual game of peek-a-boo with its community of about 300 eels to help prevent the creatures from getting shy under lockdown, NBC News reports.

The spotted garden eels in the Tokyo aquarium are accustomed to streams of people looking into their tanks, but officials said in a statement Friday that appears to be changing since the facility closed its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 1.

To keep the eels from getting scared of humans, the aquarium has proposed a "face-showing festival" on May 3 through 5 where the public can video call the facility on their Apple devices to see the eels and the eels can see the callers. Five screens have been set up around the tank that the public can call into. People will ideally be able to see the eels popping up from the sand, swimming, and twice a day, being fed — barring they don't get skittish and burrow.

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"We hope that our spotted garden eels will start remembering human beings," the aquarium said. "We also do hope that we can offer something good and useful for your stay-home period."

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