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Tokyo aquarium wants people to video call their “lonely” eels amid coronavirus lockdown

The Sumida Aquarium placed five tablets in front of the water tank and urged the public to video call their collection of around 300 spotted garden eels to help the animals stay interactive.

The aquarium says the eels have become more evasive recently, burrowing themselves in the sand to hide when staff approach their tank, since the facility was closed to visitors on March 1 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

They are hoping the three-day “Face Show Festival” from Sunday (May 3) to Tuesday (May 5), could help the naturally vigilant creatures get familiar with humans again, so the staff can easily check on their well-being.

During a rehearsal held days before the real event, the eels seemed very cautious, barely sticking out from the sand when people, including staff and their family members greeted them via video link on the tablets.

Due to privacy concerns, the aquarium declined to provide handout footage of the public taking part in the “Face Show Festival”, but told a few hours into the event on Sunday, the eels seemed to have started lowering their guard a bit.

The aquarium says it is still too early to tell how effective the effort will be.

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