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Penguins Ditch the Aquarium for ‘Friends’ Set Via Nexstar Media Wire via Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Via Nexstar Media Wire via Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

While the Coronavirus pandemic might have terminated your own adventurous lifestyle, penguins from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium have had a blast exploring the city through various field trips. With major attractions like museums shut down to the public, the tourism possibilities opened up for flightless aquatic birds. Most recently the penguins have attended The FRIENDS Experience, Chicago’s new immersive exhibit inspired by the NBC sitcom.

Penguins on the Loose!

When the Coronavirus necessitated closing the Shedd Aquarium last March, the curious penguins were set loose to experience — for the first time — the entirety of their home aquarium. The cute footage quickly went viral and soon, more outings were planned: Soldier Field, the Art Institute, and now, The FRIENDS Experience. Documentation of these adorable excursions have turned the penguins — Fitz, Mercedes, Howard and Georgia — into local celebrities, joining the ranks of Wellington, the Shedd’s 33-year-old Rockhopper penguin.

But as the Covid-19 vaccines roll out, a return to normal life seems imminent. And while the rest of us are excited to get back out in the world, sadly, it means that these penguins must return to the confines of their own watery exhibit.

Penguins on the Grid Iron

The Penguins Visit Central Perk

Via Nexstar Media Wire via Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Via Nexstar Media Wire via Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Friends was set in New York City, filmed on a sound stage in Los Angeles, and now, it has been reconstructed for the city of Chicago. The FRIENDS Experience is the Windy City’s latest pop-up exhibit in Chicago, based on the hit 90’s TV show. It features a full set recreation of Monica’s apartment and the gang’s beloved coffee shop, Central Perk. And while that might seem like a random place to take a group of penguins in 2021… why not?

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The pics of the Shedd penguins enjoying this postmodern adventure are hilarious. I only wish we could hear Joey’s enthusiastic reaction to watching them flop around the set… he is, after all, a major bird lover. Remember the pet duck and rooster? And his own stuffed animal, Hugsy the penguin?! Then again, Monica would have had a nervous breakdown letting wild animals into her pristine apartment.

Chicago residents: you can visit The FRIENDS Experience for yourself beginning on March 17. Tickets are available here.

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Emily Mack About the author:
Emily Mack is a staff writer for Rare. She currently lives in Chicago and has very strong opinions about where to find the best hot dog. She studied nonfiction writing at Columbia University in New York City, and recently graduated with the Ellis Avery Prize for creative writing. Her favorite topics are Cher, fast fashion, Chicago urban legends, and Jack Nicholson movies.
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