nice things

Which Animals Are Having the Best Time?

Photo-Illustration: Getty Images

There’s a popular meme floating around that goes like this: People will post a picture of something decidedly unnatural, like Lime scooters in a river, or Lisa Frank dolphins leaping out of technicolor water and write something like, “Nature is healing, we are the virus.” It’s a spoof of a genre of viral tweets that started to emerge around the beginning of the coronavirus crisis that supposedly showed animals flourishing in the absence of humans. There was one that showed swans “returning” to the canals in Venice, and another that showed elephants getting loaded on corn wine in China’s Yunnan province and then passing out like a herd of unruly college freshmen. Most of these tweets were later found to be fabricated, or at least misleading — the pictures of the swans weren’t actually taken in Venice, and those pictures of the elephants have been floating around since at least December 2019.

Although these bizarre romanticizations of the effects of a global catastrophe have proven to be bogus, it’s true that over the past few weeks, as humans have been forced inside, many animals have been, quite simply, vibing. Every few days, there’s a new report about animals having the time of their lives. It’s nice for the animals, it seems, and it’s nice for us, as humans, to watch cute animals having a nice time. (Some animals, it should be noted, like New York City’s rats, are not having a nice time.) And so, without further ado, here’s a look at which animals have been having the most fun recently.

The penguins roaming around the aquarium

In mid-March, a few days after Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium closed its doors to the public due to the coronavirus, staff let some of the penguins out of their enclosures so they could go explore. One penguin, named Wellington, was filmed gawping at the huge tanks of fish. Was he having a good time, or was he reflecting on his own captivity? Who’s to say!

The Welsh ruminants

Over the past few weeks, the cloven-hoofed citizens of Wales have left behind their quiet pastures to go party in town. In the resort town of Llandudno, majestic Great Orme goats wandered along the quaint sidewalks and feasted on hedges. And in Ebbw Vale, some sheep stopped at a McDonald’s. It was closed, but they still seem to be having fun exploring.

The partying bears

Since Yosemite National Park has been closed to visitors, its population of bears have reportedly been “having a party.

“Now that there are no people, the bears are literally just walking down the road to get to where they need to, which is kind of cool to see,” one park ranger said in a Facebook livestream.

Good for them.

The pandas doing it

Technically, this doesn’t have anything to do with humans social distancing, but it’s still worth celebrating. At the beginning of April, Ying Ying and Le Le, the two giant pandas at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park Zoo, finally had sex after living together for more than a decade. Congrats to the happy couple! Look at them go.

Photo: Courtesy of Ocean Park

Philly’s rodents

New York’s famed Pizza Rat was a hero for a different, simpler time. Now, we have new snacking rodents, and they’re all from Philly. (Go Birds!) There’s the groundhog who devoured a slice of pizza while angrily staring down two dogs, and the squirrel who nibbled serenely on a ball of mozzarella the size of her head while sunning herself in the park. Can you imagine a more pleasant way to spend an afternoon?

The sunbathing cows

Earlier this month, a Twitter user shared pictures of cows sunning themselves on the pristine, abandoned beaches of Corsica. Some of the bovine beauties laid out in the sand, others dipped themselves in the crystal-clear, turquoise water. Four stomachs and not a worry in the world … sounds wonderful.

The jellyfish in Venice

Jellyfish don’t have a brain or a central nervous system. They’re just gorgeous, gelatinous bells, with graceful tentacles and mouth holes that are the same as their anus holes, that float around minding their own business and looking amazing. Here’s one that was filmed in the Venice canals (for real, not like those swans) on Easter Sunday. I wish it were me …

Which Animals Are Having the Best Time?