An undated illustration from the upcoming children?s book "A Penguin Adventure", based on the real-life field trips of Rockhopper penguins Edward and Annie at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium that went viral during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shedd Aquarium/Handout via REUTERS
February 14, 2022
By Eric Cox
CHICAGO (Reuters) – There are new tour guides in town at the Chicago Shedd Aquarium, and they are about to star in a children’s book.
A video of an inseparable pair of penguins, affectionately known as “Edward and Annie” went viral as they explored the aquatic world of sea animals at the aquarium in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The companions quickly rose to celebrity status. With the aquarium closed to visitors, the empty halls were an adventure awaiting the waddling duo to visit some of their fellow inhabitants.
“They go on field trips, and we take them all around the aquarium which spurred their stardom being out and about during the pandemic,” said Megan Vens-Policky, an animal caretaker.
The wandering birds brought a silver lining to their virtual audience during quarantines and a cycle of lockdowns. Trainers have said that the birds’ freedom to roam has been beneficial to their own welfare, too.
They have even visited another Chicago celebrity: Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at the nearby Field Museum.
Needless to say, Edward and Annie’s notoriety has only just begun. A book titled “Edward and Annie: A Penguin Adventure” is slated to hit shelves next month.
“It wasn’t on my mind that it should be a children’s book — but it brought so much joy to me, my family and so many people that I thought it made since to go that direction,” said Caryn Rivadeneira, the author.
The birds will be central characters of the book as it highlights the challenges and fun when embarking on new adventures.
“The book talks about how new things that are different can be a little scary, but exciting at the same time. I hope that our readers can take that to heart and tap into that sense of adventure,” Vens-Policky said.
The book will go on sale March 1. A portion of proceeds will benefit the penguins at the Shedd Aquarium, and conservations for penguins in the wild.
(Writing by Bianca Flowers; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Lisa Shumaker)