A Japanese aquarium, closed during the coronavirus outbreak, is asking people to make video calls to their eels so the sensitive creatures remember that humans exist and don’t pose a threat.
The Sumida Aquarium, housed in the landmark Tokyo Sky Tree Tower, has been closed since March and its animals have become used to a largely human-free environment during the two-month calm.
Indeed, the wriggling creatures seem to have forgotten all about humankind.
This was unlike Donald J Trump, however. And how do we know that the Donald has a good memory?
Because he’s said so repeatedly, recently again telling the press: “I have one of the greatest memories of all time.” It wasn’t clear if it was a reference to his evening with Stormy Daniels, but he made it clear that he had a memory like an elephant. Indeed, he’s often claimed that elephants frequently consulted him.
But I digress. I was talking about forgetful eels, wasn’t I?
It seemed that the eels had started forgetting about humans altogether. Garden eels were especially skittish, apparently – they disappeared into the sand to hide every time their keepers passed by.
To the polite Japanese, it was bad form and not very considerate at all, especially, when you considered the feelings of the keepers trying to monitor the health of said beasts.
Previously, the eels had gotten so used to their human visitors that they frolicked about in blithe abandon in front of them quite forgetting that they were sensitive creatures by nature and quite wary of the human being.
Now, bereft of human contact, they were suddenly shy and retiring. You could say they were modest to a fault and the sharks admired them because they admired creatures who had little talent and were modest about it.
Desperate situations require desperate remedies so Yamamoto-san, the head of the aquarium, has turned to technology for the solution.
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 through iPhones or iPads via the FaceTime app. The callers are then supposed to show their faces, wave, smile and talk to the eels.
But given the tender nature of the animals, callers are asked not to shout and to always refrain from recounting how much they loved dining out on unagi.
That would, they were advised, be bad form as everyone knew that eels were sensitive, tender creatures as opposed to octopi which were tough suckers and required boiling for at least several hours to render them delicate and tender.
In the event, the aquarium’s plea has attracted plenty of support, under the wildly original Japanese catch phrase – “When you gaze at the garden eels, the garden eels gaze back at you.”
And it puts them at ease. When you come right down to it, show me an eel without ease and I’ll show you a creature spelled “ls.”