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Japanese aquarium asking public to video chat with skittish eels

May 1 (UPI) -- An aquarium in Japan is asking members of the public to video chat with its eels to keep the animals accustomed to humans during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo, which is home to about 300 spotted garden eels, said the ocean creatures had grown accustomed to the presence of humans peering into their tanks, but since the aquarium closed March 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic the eels have started to become more skittish.

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"It seems like the spotted garden eels are getting used to a non-human environment and have forgotten about people. When the staff pass in front of them, they start hiding in the sand," the aquarium said in a statement on its website.

The facility announced it is holding a "face-showing festival" May 3-5 for members of the public to use FaceTime on Apple devices to video conference with the eels on screens set up around the tanks.

The announcement said the eels will be able to see the callers, and the callers will hopefully be able to see the eels.

"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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